Tank Dell returned home to the University of Houston with plenty of flash. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston wide receiver Matthew Golden is going to be a problem for the Cougars' opponents. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Former UH star Tank Dell turned his first preseason game with the Texans into a highlight show. (@HoustonTexans)
University of Houston receiver Mathew Golden (No. 2) received plenty of love after a key touchdown catch. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Former UH receiver Tank Dell had CJ Stroud entertained at the Cougars' season opener. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston wide receiver Matthew Golden has hands like few others. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston receiver Joseph Manjack IV can be a touchdown maker for these Coogs. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston wide receiver Sam Brown can go up and get the football. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston defensive end Nelson Ceaser is a force. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Oklahoma transfer David Ugwoegbu is making his presence felt for Houston. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston receiver Joseph Manjack has a way of getting his teammates pumped up. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston coach Dana Holgorsen loves his battlers. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston QB Donovan Smith brings plenty of poise to the table. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston coach Dana Holgorsen appreciates the fight in his remade team. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston linebacker Hasaan Hypolite is making the most of a position change. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
The TDECU Stadium atmosphere certainly lived up to the buildup. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston QB Donovan Smith knows he must be able to rely on running backs like Brandon Campbell. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Texans QB CJ Stroud came out to see the Cougars' season opener because of Tank Dell. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston's football team celebrated a season opening win. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Oklahoma transfer David Ugwoegbu is an impact player for UH. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston quarterback Donovan Smith brings plenty of Big 12 experience to the Coogs. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston quarterback Donovan Smith must stand tall for the Cougars. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
University of Houston quarterback Donovan Smith can air out the football. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Tank Dell is the Pied Piper of the University of Houston football, the electric flash of a receiver who’s quickly become one of the best ambassadors that Dana Holgorsen’s program has ever had. Dell just keeps drawing more and more people into the Cougars’ big top. Dell is the one who made Texans rookie starting quarterback C.J. Stroud want to attend the Cougars’ season opener. And Dell had Stroud cracking up on the sideline of a lively 17-14 Houston win. Dell also made time for every fan who stopped him, posing for more photos than a politician running for re-election.
Dell always seems to be in motion. And he’s usually making someone smile.
“I’ve got my hands full with Tank,” Holgorsen laughs when asked if he spent much time with Stroud.
Dell’s continuing presence around the UH program may be most felt in the development of the Cougars’ next receiver star to be though.
Tank Dell and Matthew Golden text or talk almost every day. They are more than buddies, more than links in the University of Houston’s building wide receiver tradition. Both Dell, the already buzzy Houston Texans rookie, and Golden, the most dangerous weapon that UH’s first Big 12 team has, use the same word to describe their bond.
“I text him everyday,” Dell tells PaperCity. “That’s my little brother. We talk every day.”
Golden runs almost everything by Dell, figuring it helps give him an edge and an advantage no other top receiver in college football has. When the four star recruit arrived on campus, Dell quickly willing took on the mission of teaching Golden every advantage he knew. And Dell — one of the best route runners in all of college football — certainly knew plenty.
“He’s always been the same dude since I first got here,” Golden tells PaperCity. “He’s always been a big brother to me. Showed me the things I need to do better. Told me what I needed to work on. Just having him in my corner — he’s my guy.
“I just talked to him yesterday.”
Heading into UH’s Bayou Bucket game with Rice on Saturday evening, Golden is adjusting to life as the No. 1 wideout in Dana Holgorsen’s offense. It’s a responsibility he takes super seriously. Following Tank Dell, who racked up 109 catches, 1,398 yards and 18 total touchdowns for the Cougars last season, means plenty to Matthew Golden.
“We had Speedy (cornerback and wide receiver Marcus Jones) before him,” Golden notes, mentioning another current former Cougar turned NFL player (Jones is Bill Belichick-blessed Patriot). “I just feel like the receiving corps of Houston is deep. We’ve got a good room. I feel like we might have the best room in the Big 12.
“That’s just the confidence that I have in my brothers and our team.”
“He’s always been the same dude since I first got here. He’s always been a big brother to me. Showed me the things I need to do better. Told me what I needed to work on. Just having him in my corner — he’s my guy.” — UH receiver Matthew Golden on Tank Dell
Tank Dell, Matthew and a UH Receiver Tradition
Game one against UTSA provides an illustration of what this UH receiving group can be. Sam Brown, who struggled with consistency and on-field discipline issues as a redshirt freshman in 2022, breaks out with a six-catch, 106-yard day. Joseph Manjack IV, the former USC transfer who wowed in camp, catches six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown, seemingly getting open over the middle at will. Golden, the most talented receiver of the bunch, has a more inconsistent game, making four catches on seven targets for 36 yards.
Golden does leave a cornerback spinning and more lost than a tourist from Kansas dropped into Times Square at midnight on a fade route touchdown catch in the end zone. But Golden knows he can do much more. So does new UH starting quarterback Donovan Smith, Holgorsen and one Tank Dell.
“I’m glad Matt made that one play he made in the end zone,” Holgorsen says when I ask about Golden and Smith’s connection. “He had an opportunity to make a couple of other ones on third down that I know he’s capable of making. And he knows he’s capable of making.
“I’ve seen their relationship grow and their sync grow in practice. I need to see it out here on that field.”
Dell is telling Golden much of the same thing. For all his personality and dazzle, which includes wearing a diamond encrusted “Flash” necklace, Dell built his reputation at the University of Houston with relentless hard work. Nathaniel Dell is a receiver who always puts in the extra effort. A receiver who studies as much as a law student cramming for the LSAT.
You don’t run routes this precise without knowing more than almost everyone else on the field.
Dell preaches that preparation to Golden. But he’s already excited about this UH receiving group. Like Golden, Dell thinks this is a group set up to surprise.
“They look amazing,” Dell tells PaperCity. “Manjack, Sam Brown. They’re going to do some things. And Golden is Golden.”
The good fortune of Dell being drafted by the Texans, with general manager Nick Caserio moving up in the third round to be sure and get him, is allowing Dell and Golden’s bond to grow even stronger. They’ll be making plays just 6.5 miles from each other — Dell in the big show at NRG Stadium, Golden at TDECU Stadium for a Big 12 revitalized Power 5 program — comparing touchdowns. And plenty of little notes, tips and tricks.
“He’s like five miles from me,” Golden tells PaperCity. “I’ll be with him. Hang out with him. Still talk to him. It’s all love.
“It’s good he stayed in Houston.”
“I text him everyday. That’s my little brother. We talk every day.” — Tank Dell on Matthew Golden
Matthew Golden isn’t quite as outgoing as the whirling dervish that is Tank Dell just yet. But The Next UH wideout brings his own pizzazz. Golden had plenty of fun posing with all the props at Houston’s team photo day. And he brings a confidence, that while less loud than Dell’s, is no less strong.
“Matt Golden is that guy,” Manjack says.
No one needs to tell Tank Dell that. He already knows what his brother in playmaking can do. Now Dell and Golden will let the rest of the world find out.