DECEMBER 11, 2017

Fritzmas Tracking: The Wave Rolls on the Recruiting Trail with 3 Commits

Tulane's recruiting class is reaching uncharted waters

By JP Gooderham

With Early Signing Day on the horizon (December 20th, to be exact), Tulane hosted 9 recruits in Uptown who weren't yet committed to the Wave.

And boy, the staff had themselves a weekend. Three of those nine have announced commitments, and the Wave is even closer to completing what looks like an historic recruiting class.

Three New Commits: Profiles

Ryan Wright (Punter - San Ramon, CA) got the party started after his OV by announcing his commitment on Sunday morning:

Wright projects as a punter in college, as Kohl's Kicking ranks him as #4 in America.

Also interesting, Wright started at quarterback this year for his San Ramon team. That experience doesn't hurt. After all, Glen Cuiellette's fake punt on the road at ECU was a critical play this season in the Wave's win at East Carolina.

Next up, Scottlandville Magnet Safety Dorian Camel (3-Star DB) announced that he was in.

The safety out of Baton Rouge became the highest ranked recruit in the class, per 247. He's been heavily recruited with SEC programs like Ole Miss, Miss State, and Mizzou making offers. In the end, he chose to come to New Orleans to play for the Green Wave.

Camel was ranked by 247 as the #23 prospect in this year's Louisiana class. A big part of that is his "blistering speed," posting a 10.67 100 meter time that placed Camel in the Louisiana Select State Championship for track (Advocate profile from last summer here).

The wins on the recruiting trail did not stop there.

Jeffery Johnson (3-star DT - Brookhaven, MS) ended the day with a massive splash by announcing that he would be joining the Green Wave.

Johnson, the #9 ranked recruit in Mississippi (via 247), looks to be a major player at a position of need for the Green Wave. After an outstanding high school career at Brookhaven, most SEC schools offered Johnson -- including Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Ole Miss (where Hugh Freeze had Johnson as a priority target before his resignation) and more.

The Clarion Ledger featured a profile on Johnson's commitment today, as the marquee DT felt at home at Tulane even before his visit.

With Johnson planning to sign with the Wave on Early Signing Day, the staff hopes he will emerge as a four year starter for Tulane. That's good news with recent departures, including Tanzel Smart to the Los Angeles Rams last year from our defensive line.

Johnson and Camel now rank #1 and #2 in the class according to 247, respectively. Just goes to show you, Fritz and Co. have used this time to target top grade talent,a and the results have been great so far.

Big Picture: Tulane Surging in the Rankings

With high profile commits joining #GT18, Tulane is poised to sign a class that looks to be the best in Tulane history (at least in the recruiting rankings era).

The Green Wave has surged to #65 in the nation, and even more importantly, fourth in the AAC above UCF, Temple, and SMU now.

The staff expects another big group of visits for this final weekend before #Fritzmas in December, so stay tuned.

Other Notes

On Twitter yesterday, sophomore QB Johnathan Brantley and DB Tre Jackson both announced they have received a release to transfer.

Brantley saw time on a crowded QB depth chart last year but faced increased competition from starter Jonathan Banks and newcoming Khalil McClain this season. Best of luck to both players going forward.

The Wave will pick up another two scholarships that could be used on this class.

JUCO Player of the Year Lindsey Scott, an LSU QB transfer, made his visit to Kansas over the weekend:

Of note, he did not commit.

The Jayhawks have been the only P5 in the mix so far for Scott while the Green Wave's staff has made a major push for the former Zachary star. Coach Fritz was on hand in Scooba, MS to see Scott play in the national championship two weeks ago.

Finally, there was some discussion that a fourth commit may have happened over the weekend. I've confirmed that is not the case -- we are at three new Wave pledges, but of course more could come this week.

Updated Fritzmas Big Board

The Green Wave's class stands at 19 commits. Here's the big board.

[Right click and open image in new tab to see a bigger version]

DECEMBER 07, 2017

Fritzmas List: Recruit Visitors for Dec. 9th Weekend

Fritzmas is upon us, and 7 three star targets will visit among many more

By JP Gooderham

We are closing in on the first wave (no pun intended) of #Fritzmas for the 2018 class, and Tulane expects 16 targets to come to Uptown this weekend.

Of course, Early Signing Day will come on Wednesday, Dec. 20, so the Fritz staff is working to complete what could be a historic class for the Green Wave.

Here's who they expect on hand for this weekend only:

Current Tulane Commits

1: Juan Monjarres - St. Aug., LA - DE/LB (3-star)

Monjarres had another great season at St. Aug, and he currently ranks as Tulane's highest rated commit in the class.

2: Stephen Lewerenz - Buccholz, FL - OL

Offensive lineman Stephen Lewerenz will make the trip from Gainesville.

3: Michael Remondet - Ascension Episcopal, LA - OL

Remondet will also be on hand. Remondet and Lewerenz make up half of the four OL commits currently in the class.

4: Carlos Hatcher - Hebron, TX - DE (3-star)

Hatcher - whose father played in the NFL - has been stayed strong with the Wave since August.

5: Sorrell Brown - Arlington Martin, TX - WR

Brown is one of the under-the-radar candidates from this class. His tape looks great, and he'll be joining from Texas as well.

6: Davon Wright - Donaldsonville, LA - DT (3-star)

Wright has been a long-time Tulane commit at a position of need. Wright chose the Wave over Colorado State, Arkansas State, Army, Navy, and more.

Targets

7: Dorian Camel - Scotlandville, LA - S/DB (3-star)

Camel is a highly rated Louisiana target who has not committed but holds an impressive offer list. 247 rates Camel as the #23 recruit in the state. Arkansas, Mississippi State, Missouri, Iowa State, and Ole Miss have all had offers reported as well.

8: Anthony Lewis - Murphy, AL - WR/TE (3-star)

Lewis is a 6'4" TE out of Alabama. The uncommitted 3-star is another heavily recruited target with offers from the likes of Miss State, Kentucky, Indiana, Memphis, and more.

9: Maurice Robinson - Murphy, AL - ATH (3-star)

Robinson is an outstanding ATH prospect (#51 in the nation and a top-20 prospect in Alabama). He holds several major offers too including the school upriver. He's uncommitted.

10: Larry Brooks - Kennedale, TX - DB (ULM Commit)

Brooks is the first new Texas name on this list, but he's currently pledged to Louisiana-Monroe.

11: Charles Coleman - Mae Jemison, AL - DE

Coleman is an uncommitted prospect out of Huntsville who holds offers from Tulane and Western Kentucky currently.

12: Ryan Wright - California, CA - P (3-Star)

Wright is interesting as he also played quarterback in high school. His recruiting picked up due to his leg, as he looks to punt in college.

13: Barret Pickering - Hoover, AL - K (3-star, Nebraska commit)

Pickering is a talented kicker from Alabama HS powerhouse Hoover. He committed to the Cornhuskers under the last staff, so it would be a big pickup if the Green Wave staff can convince him to flip. 247 ranks him as the #13 kicker in this class, and obviously the Wave has a need there.

14: Curry Benn - Landry Walker, LA - CB (3-star, Southern Miss commit)

Get him. We need CBs, and Benn fits the bill. The local prospect has been committed to the Golden Eagles for a while but holds a new Tulane offer.

15: Preston Ellison - Odessa Permian, TX - DB

Ellison is a bit of an under the radar guy. He doesn't have a reported Tulane offer yet but will be on campus this weekend.

16: Jeffery Johnson - Brookhaven, MS - DT (3-star)

Last but certainly not least, Johnson is a big-time DT out of the Sip (where he is ranked as the #9 prospect in the state). He has offers from just about everywhere (247 lists Alabama, Ole Miss, and Miss State as his 'warm' schools, for context.

That's it for the second to last weekend before Early Signing Day. Word from the staff is that they are expecting a huge weekend to close before #Fritzmas as well, so stay tuned.

NOVEMBER 27, 2017

Fritzmas List: 3-Star WR Jorien Vallien Commits to Tulane

Top 50 Louisiana Recruit Joins GT18

By JP Gooderham

Less than 24 hours after Green Wave fans endured a heartbreaker in Dallas, some great news appeared on Twitter as Jorien Vallien announced on Twitter that he was committing to Tulane.

The Alexandria High standout -- another highly rated Louisiana recruit in this class -- shared that he was "110%" in with the Wave.

Overview on Vallien

Vallien has been heavily recruited as a consensus 3-star recruit per 247 (profile here).

Ranked as the #48 prospect in this class from Louisiana, he held 17 reported offers including Arizona State, Mississippi State, and Vandy -- as well as many in-state schools including Louisiana Tech and ULL.

LA Football Magazine has a nice writeup here from before his senior season, and they point out that Alexandria High has a track record of wide receiver standouts, including DJ Chark upriver.

Vallien is described as one of he state's "best kept secrets" for his combination of size and speed. He's translated those assets to on-field results, notching his first 1000-yard season as a sophomore for Alexandria.

Vallien now joins Arlington, TX's Sorrell Brown as the second wide receiver in this class.

You can see his HUDL Tape here.

Other Takes

Fellow Tulane commit Davon Wright joined in on Twitter:

Louisiana recruiting writer Jerit Roser also noted that this was a "NICE get" for the Wave:

Rankings Roundup

Vallien scores well with the recruiting services, as he became the 4th-highest rated member of this class of commits.

In turn, Tulane jumped up to #76 nationally and #7 in the AAC, according to the latest 247 team rankings.

NOVEMBER 25, 2017

Tulane Football Gameday Preview: at SMU Mustangs

"Are you not entertained?" - Willie Fritz, probably

By JP Gooderham

Not even a month ago, Tulane Football was at a crossroads: the Green Wave had dropped its fourth consecutive Homecoming game, and the latest disappointment came at the hands of the unheralded Cincinnati Bearcats.

Since that 17-16 loss that left the team at a 3-6 record, the team has dug their way back to the surface through two gritty performances.

In Greenville, Tulane secured its first road win over East Carolina in program history -- coming in overtime after losing a late lead, no less.

After that confidence building performance, the Wave returned home to knock off the Houston Cougars despite being a double digit underdog. That marked just the sixth time ever that a Tulane team had beaten the Coogs.

In a program accustomed to teams with unfulfilled potential, a senior-laden squad has produced on the field to keep the dream alive of halting a streak of losing seasons.
That brings us to Dallas, TX, where the Green Wave will face the (6-4) SMU Mustangs in a morning battle, with all their chips at the center of the table.

Where to Watch

TV: CBS Sports Net

This away game will be on national TV @ 11 am (CT). If you don't get CBSSN, head over to Bruno's.
That said, if you are in Texas and can get to Dallas... it looks like you can get tickets close up for just $6 on StubHub.

Who is Predicted to Win

You can see more in this week's Wave of Predictions, but four out of of four prediction models we follow like the Mustangs in this one.

But hey, they liked Houston too! So goes the life of the underdog. The gamblin' line has been SMU -8 this week, and the money is basically even if you care about such things.

What Do We Know About SMU?

Overall, SMU is about on pace with expectations for this year (admittedly, without the signature victory that Mustangs fans were hoping for).

They are 6-5 with a 3-4 mark in conference play mirroring the Green Wave.

Resume Breakdown

SMU's best wins came early in the season against a couple of the more respected G5 teams.

The Mustangs dominated North Texas 54-32 back in September, while the Mean Green would later make a run to reach the C-USA Championship. SMU also took down a good Arkansas State out of the Sun Belt 44-21 soon after.

In league play, SMU slowed down to 3-4 with wins coming against the bottom feeders UConn, @ Cincy, and Tulsa (noting we lost to one of those teams, of course).

Most recently, SMU is on a 3-game losing streak after dropping matchups to UCF (31-24), @ Navy (43-40), and @ Memphis (66-45).

Bill Connelly of SB Nation ranks them as the #58 team in FBS (and we sit at #91).

How's the Offense?

Very, very good. This team is #10 in FBS for Points per Game, and their offensive S&P+ ranking puts them at an impressive #7 across football.

Digging deeper, they have a lethal combination of efficiency (ranked #34) with explosiveness (even better at #20). There isn't a missing link when it comes to the Pony Express this year.

At QB, Ben Hicks has 28 TDs to 7 interceptions this year, and he's moved the ball well with a 58% completion rate. A big factor in that success is a tandem of truly dominant wideouts.

Coming into this year, the known-entity was WR Courtland Sutton who had already attained first-round draft pick attention. Walter Football compares Sutton to a "Dez Bryant-eque player," so that tells you what he brings to the table: play-changing size matched with talent.

While teams have moved coverage to Sutton's side of the field, SMU has developed a two-headed monster using LSU transfer - and Louisiana high school career receiving yards leader - Trey Quinn.

Quinn played meaningful snaps at LSU but had an issue with catching the ball. He's changed that identity at SMU, as Quinn has hauled in over 100 receptions (that's a lot) with a team-high 72% catch rate.

Once teams have tried to acclimate to the Mustang passing attack, running back Xavier Jones has been able to eat. The sophomore has been rock solid with 6.1 yards per carry over 161 rushes this year. He got a little banged up against Memphis, but Jones is expected to be ready to go tomorrow in Dallas.

Summary: This is certainly in the elite class for AAC offenses. Teams that have been able to slow SMU's offense down have done it... by playing smart football against SMU's defense in order to control the ball.

Tulsa is the best example, where the Golden Hurricane relied on their run attack to burn clock while still finding chances to punish the Mustangs' D with deep shots.

How's the Defense?

Very bad. Yeah, hate to be harsh here, but SMU's Defense has been a surprising pain point for this team all year. As such, the Mustangs have embraced a Texas Tech-esque identity in the AAC West, with many games becoming close shootouts.

They give up an average 35.3 points per game (#118 in FBS) and haven't held an opponent under 30 points since the Bearcats back on October 21st.

One thing I really like: SMU struggles with explosiveness, and that's the bread and butter of the Tulane offense. While they have made recent progress, the Green Wave has been boom-and-bust for the most part when they have had the ball, and those Dontrell Hilliard breakaway touchdowns have made the difference in wins like Army. I'm looking to see the Green Wave strike for easy points, especially in the first half.

As noted earlier, the best bet against the SMU Offense is to 1) protect the ball, as they'll punish you on turnovers and 2) find consistency in the running game to keep the clock moving.

They're really not very good at pass defense either, as Bill C. ranks the Mustangs #89 in FBS. That's good news too, as both Jonathan Banks and Terren Encalade are coming off career days against an impressive Houston unit.

How about the Green Wave?

Tulane is coming off an important victory in the trajectory of the program, but it's an all-new season this week as the Green Wave tries to secure the first non-losing season for the program since 2013.

The Wave is obviously coming off an emotional high from a tremendous upset -- one that S&P numbers would suggest is the toughest win for a Green Wave team since at least 2006.

Context: Playing Meaningful Football?

Since 2000, here are the instances in which Tulane was playing meaningful football in the last week of the season with the end result.

2013: 7-4 Record, Lost to Rice, Reached New Orleans Bowl
2004: 5-5 Record, Lost to #7 Louisville, No Bowl
2002: 6-5 Record, Beat Southern Miss 31-10, Won Hawaii Bowl
2000: 6-4 Record, Beat Memphis 37-14, Not Selected for Bowl Game

So yeah, it's pretty significant overall that Tulane is playing relevant games in the last week of the season (just the fifth time in the past 27 years).

That won't comfort anyone if the Green Wave can't pull it off, so worth mentioning now.

Green Wave Storylines

Doing my best not to think about the post-game implications, Tulane has some compelling storylines to watch.

The Banks was Opened

Junior QB Jonathan Banks put up a career best 251 yards against Houston, and a major chunk of that went to receiver Terren Encalade.

Enjoy:

Encalade's 186 yard day was not just a career best but put him the record book for best Tulane games ever right outside the top 10 (186 yards was good for 11th).

The rising tandem of Encalade and Darnell Mooney, who have both been critical assets in this late season stand, will be a key one to watch tomorrow.

(Hopefully) Senior-Centered Defense's Last Last Stand

Going to the postseason is an important goal for the program, sure, but part of the appeal this year for Green Wave fans should be to get another chance to watch some veteran playmakers while representing the mighty Angry Wave.

On offense, that includes the duo of Dontrell Hilliard and Sherman Badie. On Defense, it's a long list, as we saw last week at Senior Day.

Tomorrow will be a matchup against a verifiably dominant offense and this experienced group. Should be a fun battle.

Here's some vintage footage of Parry Nickerson early in his career changing a game against the then-winless UCF Knights:

Podcast

And if you want more analysis, you can check out this week's FTWCast featuring Billy Embody from PonyStampede.com as well as Voice of the Green Wave Todd Graffagnini:

NOVEMBER 24, 2017

FTWCast Episode 25: Tulane @ SMU Preview with Pony Stampede and Todd Graffagnini

Tulane is trying to go Bowl Wave for the third time since 2000

By JP Gooderham

This week on FTWCast, we are breaking down Tulane's trip to Dallas where they will face a bowl eligible SMU Mustangs.

To help us do that, we have Billy Embody, editor of 247's Pony Stampede dot com.

We aren't stopping there though -- we saw your feedback that you'd like to see more Tulane coverage, so we called in the big guns. Voice of the Green Wave Todd Graffagnini joins us for the second half of the pod to share what he's seen in camp this week.

Episode Highlights

2:00 | Billy Embody of SMU 247 Q&A
10:20 | SMU Defensive Struggles
13:00 | Is Morris Talk a distraction?
16:30 | Todd Graffagnini Q&A
20:00 | Energy in Practice
24:00 | Prepping for SMU
34:00 | Standout player of 2017?

Listen on Soundcloud

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Find it on iTunes here. If you don't mind, give us a rating if you're a subscriber there.

And we're now on Overcast here as well as Google Play Music for you Android folks.

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