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For Sumlin, Smooth Sailing on Signing Day

For Houston Cougar fans, boring has never been so exciting.

On Wednesday, all 25 scholarship athletes committed Coach Kevin Sumlin and staff tendered their letters of intent without a hiccup.  It was a day free of drama and surprises, almost dull in its formality.

Sumlin told a packed house at Bubba’s Sports Bar & Grill Wednesday evening to get used to boring signing days.

 “Hopefully it will be about this surprising every year,” Sumlin said. “Sorry.”

The assembled supporters were in no mood to hear apologies, though.  Sumlin and his assistants have brought together the Cougars’ most impressive recruiting class in years, ranked 47th in the nation by Rivals.com.  Houston signed two quarterbacks, one running back, three receivers, one tight end, four offensive linemen, four defensive linemen, four linebackers, four defensive backs, three athletes and one punter on Wednesday, adding depth at every position. 

Sumlin made it clear Wednesday night that depth was his primary concern on the recruiting trail.  Accumulated injuries, particularly on defense, ruined the Cougars chance to win Conference USA in 2009.

“We ran out of guys last year,” Sumlin said.

Sumlin said that the Cougars played 12 true freshmen in 2009, with five starting at least one game.  That’s not an experience any coach would be eager to repeat, but Sumlin stressed on Wednesday that the best players in practice would play, regardless of ranking or experience. 

Increased depth should give the Cougars added flexibility on the field, especially on defense.  The defense could line up in either 4-3 or 3-4 formations, largely depending on whether or not the Coogs find a defensive end on the roster able to play in space, Sumlin said.

Highlighting Houston’s 2010 recruiting class in quarterback Terrance Broadway of Baton Rouge, La.  Rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, Broadway is a dual-threat player who will compete to take over for Case Keenum in 2011. 

Broadway and the majority of the 2010 recruiting class will have to wait their turn, but Sumlin said he expects two recent recruits to be impact players right away.  Two junior college players, defensive tackle Matangi Tonga and linebacker Sammy Brown, are already enrolled at UH.

Tonga honored his commitment to Houston despite a late blitz of interest from Southern Cal.  Sumlin said Wednesday that the defensive tackle had arrived ready to play, weighing in at around 300 lbs. and running the 40-yard dash in under 4.7 seconds.