Sumlin Hits It Big With First Class

With less than a month to recruit, University of Houston first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin scoured the state of Texas and today signed 19 high school seniors to National Letters of Intent.

HOUSTON - With less than a month to recruit, University of Houston first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin scoured the state of Texas and today signed 19 high school seniors to National Letters of Intent. Among Houston's haul of prized recruits are local products Jackie Hinton, Jr., a defensive back from Channelview High School, as well as the linebacking duo of Chavez's Jarvis Smith and Aldine's Anthony Lewis.

Sumlin is quite pleased with his first recruiting class.

"We addressed our needs," said Sumlin. "We wanted to shore up some things because we are moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 (defense.) Obviously, on defense we had to address some needs in the defensive line, and for the most part, we did that.

http://uhcougars.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/020608aaf.html "We added some speed on defense which is critical. We've gone out and addressed our needs in the kicking game, and we got a hold of one of the better kickers in the country. Then, we shored up our offense a lot, so I'm really pleased with where we are in just three weeks. (The success) can be attributed to our staff, which went right to work in getting it done here."

The Class of 2008 includes 17 native Texans out of the 19 student-athletes headed for Cullen Boulevard this fall. The list includes offensive linemen Jacolby Ashworth from Lufkin High School, Friendswood High School's Blake Sargent and Ken Van Heule from Hurst L.D. Bell High School.

The class also includes a top-ranked secondary of Gino Collins of St. Pius X High School, Hinton, Pearland's Nick Saenz and Kris Johnston from Texas City High School, while Lewis, Smith headline the linebackers along with Arlington Bowie High School's Marcus McGraw. Defensive line standouts Doran Guillory of Beaumont Kelly High School, Waller's David Hunter and Mohammed Usman, a high school teammate of McGraw from Arlington Bowie, round out the defensive signees.

On the offensive side of the ball, Sumlin and his staff added wide receivers Isaiah Sweeney from Hightower High School and Ronnie Williams from Houston Sterling High school, running backs Byrce Beall from Tatum High School and Chris Wilson from Austin High School in Sugar Land.

The two non-native Texans are Ari Tatum out of Dacula High School in Georgia and kicker Jordan Mannisto from Westlake High School in California.

"We honored a commitment from outside the state of Texas that was already here," added Sumlin, "and we signed a kicker from California, but other that the remaining signees are from the state of Texas, which is another goal we wanted to accomplish."

As mentioned, all 19 student-athletes will be incoming freshmen, something Sumlin was gearing for in his first season leading the Cougar Football program.

"People have different philosophies, and our philosophy is that we are going to recruit some junior-college players but only to fill needs. We are not going to wholesale recruit junior-college players because it is hard to keep continuity in your program. In two years (junior-college players) are playing their best the last part of their senior year, and then they are running out the door.

The Cougars plan on starting spring practice on Saturday, March 8, and will conclude the annual rite of passage with the Red-White Game on Saturday, April 12, at John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium.

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