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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Football Notebook: New coaches and new recruits help shape 2008 squad

The recruits have yet to come flying in, but at least the coaching staff is shaping up for Houston football rookie head coach Kevin Sumlin.

The former Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach announced Friday the hiring of defensive coordinator John Skladany and offensive line coach Joe Gilbert. That leaves Sumlin with only two positions (offensive coordinator and defensive line coach) that need to be filled.

Skladany comes to the Cougars after serving as defensive coordinator at Central Florida last season and at Iowa State for the previous 10 seasons. Gilbert spent last season coaching tight ends at Toledo but was offensive line coach at UCF from 2004-06 and at Toledo from 2001-03.

The two will join a mostly new staff that already includes co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jason Phillips, who spent last season at Baylor, linebackers coach Leon Burnett (Washington State), tight ends coach and special teams coordinator Tony Levine (Carolina Panthers), running backs coach Clarence McKinney (Yates High) and cornerbacks coach Zac Spavital (Oklahoma).

The new staff also has four holdovers from former head coach Art Briles’ staff, including offensive graduate assistant David Douglas, quality control assistants Anthony Evans and J.J. Wyatt and director of high school relations Joe Alcoser.

So far, Sumlin likes the makeup of his staff.

"We have a really good blend of experience and enthusiasm," Sumlin told the Houston Chronicle. "We have guys from just about every level of football."

The Houston Chronicle’s Michael Murphy, who covers the UH beat, reported in his blog ( last week that New York Jets wide receivers coach and well-traveled college offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone was the frontrunner to become the Cougars’ offensive coordinator. No official announcement has been made, but it could come this week.

However, the search for a defensive line coach could last even longer with one of the rumored top candidates, former Nebraska assistant Buddy Wyatt, having accepted the same position at Texas A’M last week.

Not bad, coach

Sumlin started his recruiting season by landing two promising prospects. reported last week that Aldine High senior linebacker Anthony Lewis has verbally committed to play for the Cougars next season.

The Web site reported Monday that Channelview High senior athlete Jackie Hinton had verbally committed to Houston.

Lewis, who is rated as a three-star prospect by, had previously considered Houston, Purdue, Nebraska and Iowa State according to’s Matt Malatesta.

The 6-3, 210-pound Lewis has some nice credentials on his r’eacute;sum’eacute;. He was a 2007 All-District 19-5A second-team selection and was named to the Associated Press’ Class 5A All-State second-team defense.

The 5-11, 185-pound Hinton, also rated as a three-star prospect, led Channelview with 998 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He also caught 20 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown.

Alridge to go one more time at Robertson

Houston’s regular-season-ending 59-6 victory over Texas Southern was the last time several of the team’s seniors played at Robertson Stadium, but not for senior running back Anthony Alridge.

He will take the field at Robertson one last time when he competes in the 83rd annual East-West Shrine game at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Alridge, who will play as a member of the West squad, put on a show in his final collegiate season. He rushed for a career-high 1,597 yards and 14 touchdowns, caught 42 passes for 428 yards and five touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass.

A 2007 All-Conference USA second-team selection, Alridge was one of the most dynamic offensive weapons for a Cougars squad that averaged 501.9 yards and nearly 35 points per contest.

Alridge was one of only two C-USA players slated to participate in Saturday’s game. Texas-El Paso senior defensive back Quintin Demps is the other.

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