2014 Tulane Preview: What You Must Know
Tulane S Darian Monroe
Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Tulane (Getty Images)
What You Need To Know
2014 Tulane Preview
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer
What you need to know about the offense: The offensive development Tulane was seeking in 2013 never materialized. So now it's back to the drawing board for a unit that will have a new feature back, a new go-to receiver and likely a new quarterback. If the spring was any indication, the Green Wave is poised to hand the ball over to redshirt freshman Tanner Lee, who looks as if he's ready to commandeer the struggling attack. Lee has a live arm and the maturity of an older hurler. But will he have any help in 2014? Senior RB Rob Kelley is hoping to offset the lost production of Orleans Darkwa, but he'll first have to get his academics in order. In the meantime, young Sherman Badie could be the catalyst for the ground game. WR Ryan Grant leaves an even bigger hole than Darkwa to be filled. Justyn Shackleford is a steady veteran, but this attack needs more pop out of Xavier Rush and sophomores Devon Breaux and Kedrick Banks on the outside. The line, too, is no better than mediocre, signaling what could be a challenging—and at times painful—debut season for Lee.
What you need to know about the defense: If Green Wave co-coordinators Jon Sumrall and Lionel Washington keep this up, one or both is going to get promoted to a much larger program. Sans any household names, Tulane was terrific on defense in 2013, wreaking havoc with a bunch of high-motor defenders flying all over the field. The unit was second in Conference USA sacks and second nationally in takeaways. Maintaining a level of chaos will be essential for a group that won't readily stand up opposing teams at the line of scrimmage. The Green Wave will again be loaded in the secondary, headed by the ball-hawking trio of CB Lorenzo Doss and safeties Sam Scofield and Darrion Monroe. The front seven, though, will need to do some work now that DE Julius Warmsley and NT Chris Davenport have graduated. The staff can count on DE Royce LaFrance to get after the passer. But the fate of the D-line will be in the hands of end Tyler Gilbert and tackles Tanzel Smart and Corey Redwine. If the trio is generating a push in 2014, Tulane will be a handful, even as it begins play in the more competitive American Athletic Conference.
1. CB Lorenzo Doss, Jr.
If there was a redraft of Green Wave players today, Doss would be scooped up by an SEC school. A wide receiver coming out of high school in New Orleans, he's used his ball skills, instincts and explosiveness after the catch to become Tulane's premier defender. Doss was the embodiment of the Green Wave's "No Fly Zone" mentality in 2014, taking two of his league-high seven interceptions back for touchdowns. He'll just keep getting better and better, which will encourage opposing passers to target whoever winds up landing the other cornerback spot.
2. SS Darion Monroe, Jr.
Monroe originally committed to Texas A&M two years ago. The Aggies could have used him in 2013. He did a little bit of everything for the Green Wave last year, chipping in with 90 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, six pass breakups and a blocked kick. Monroe's versatility in the secondary will serve him well as he switches to nickel back, a position that requires players to cover a large chunk of the field, while lowering the boom in run defense when needed.
3. FS Sam Scofield, Sr.
Scofield is the glue of the Green Wave defense, an emotional and cerebral coach on the field who makes many of the calls for the unit. He's a savvy veteran, with three letters and 17 career starts. Although his work often gets taken for granted, it's hard to overlook the contributions Scofield makes to the Tulane D. Consistent in the open field, he led the team with 104 tackles a season ago, adding 9.5 stops for minus yards, eight pass breakups and a pair of forced fumbles.
4. DE Royce LaFrance, Jr.
Someone has to rise up and offset the lost pass rush production of Julius Warmsley. That someone will be LaFrance, a junior with a great future ahead of him. At 6-3 and 244 pounds, he's built like a strongside linebacker, which causes problems for heavy-legged opposing tackles. LaFrance took advantage of the attention Warmsley was getting, making 27 tackles, 10 stops for loss and 6.5 sacks. The staff is looking for its honorable mention All-Conference USA end to evolve into an all-star pass rusher in his new league in 2014.
5. LB Nico Marley, Soph.
In many ways, Marley is the prototype at linebacker for the Green Wave—small, fast and extremely disruptive in open space. Bob Marley's grandson is only 5-8 and 180 pounds, but he plays a whole bigger—and stronger—on Saturdays. As a hyperactive rookie, he was named Conference USA co-Freshman of the Year by making 67 tackles, 10 stops for loss, two sacks and a couple of fumble recoveries. Marley is poised to become one of the young defensive stars of the American this fall.
6. RT Sean Donnelly, Sr.
The Green Wave needs help in the trenches. What it needs is a few more blockers the caliber of Donnelly. More steady than spectacular, the 6-8, 312-pound senior has started 24 games during his career. He had his best season in 2013, getting named honorable mention All-Conference USA, and he plans to build on that performance. Donnelly's leadership will also help a unit breaking in two new starters and shifting linemen around.
7. WR Justyn Shackleford, Sr.
The Green Wave is fracking for a go-to receiver to replace Ryan Grant. Shackleford is bucking to be that guy in 2014 along with a bunch of young receivers and a deep corps of tight ends. Although not very big at 5-11 and 174 pounds, the senior gets in and out of his cuts quickly. Shackleford has caught at least 28 balls in each of his three seasons in New Orleans, including 36 a year ago for 419 yards and five touchdowns.
8. QB Tanner Lee, RFr.
Fingers are crossed that Lee can beat out senior Nick Montana and sophomore Devin Powell to become the hurler that Tulane desperately needs. Lee is a former two-star recruit, who was the best passer during the spring. The 6-4, 203-pound late-bloomer throws a nice deep ball to go along with pinpoint accuracy. There's a long way to go before the opener, but if that game was tomorrow, Lee would be gearing up for his first career start.
9. RB Rob Kelley, Sr.
Tulane desperately needs a replacement for Orleans Darkwa, who rushed for 863 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Kelley is the logical choice, but only if he can get his academics in order. He was forced to sit out the spring to concentrate on the books, allowing speedy redshirt freshman Sherman Badie to turn heads. Kelley, though, is a downhill runner who can soften defenses between the tackles. The fullback-sized 5-10, 228-pounder caught 18 passes for 176 yards and a score, while ranking second on the team with 420 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 98 carries.
10. P Peter Picerelli, Jr.
When the offense staggers to a ton of three-and-outs, the punter is going to be an underrated cog in the overall operation. Fortunately, the Green Wave has a good one in Picerelli. The 6-1, 190-pound junior was named honorable mention All-Conference USA in 2013 after averaging 41.5 yards, forcing 22 fair catches and pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line 23 times. Picerelli is long and lean, with the leg whip to really drive his foot into the ball.
2014 Tulane Preview
Mountain West Daily 11/21/14
Jim Bartko is the new Director of Athletics at Fresno State, Bulldogs' softball head coach Trisha Ford has been selected as an assistant coach for the 2015 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team, and four MW teams and four individuals will represent the Conference at the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships on Nov. 22.