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2014 Tulane Recruiting Class Analysis

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 6, 2014


Tulane Green Wave 2013 ... Head Coach: Curtis Johnson


Tulane Green Wave

2013 Record: 7-6
8/31 Jackson State W 34-7
9/7 South Alabama L 41-39
9/14 at Louisiana Tech W 24-15
9/21 at Syracuse L 52-17
9/28 at ULM W 31-14
10/5 North Texas W 24-21
10/12 East Carolina W 36-33 3OT
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 Tulsa W 14-7
11/2 at Florida Atlantic L 34-17
11/9 at UTSA L 10-7
11/16 OPEN DATE
11/23 UTEP W 45-3
11/30 at Rice L 17-13
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
12/21 La-Lafayette L 24-21


The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: Generating more big plays. The Green Wave averaged just under 25 points per game last season. If not for the play of the opportunistic, ball-hawking defense, though, the team’s output would have been markedly lower. Tulane averaged a mere 4.6 yards per play, good for 115th in the country. Now that the school’s two best playmakers, RB Orleans Darkwa and WR Ryan Grant, have departed, it’ll spend the bulk of the offseason mining the roster for athletes who can stretch the field.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive end. Peter Woullard and Daren Williams make the class. The two are linebacker-sized ends who could beef up a little bit and give the Green Wave a pair of bookend pass rushers for the next few years. Center Raul Diaz was a great get out of Miami, and tight end Kendall Ardoin is a good-looking pass catching tight end. The defensive backs might not be all that heralded, but there’s lots of speed.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 114. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. With starter Ryan Griffin done, three big passers are coming in with JUCO transfer Nick Montana looking to fill the void immediately after starting out his career at Washington. The secondary is getting the most overall help with safety Nico Marley leading a deep class and Richard Allen and Parry Nickerson adding speed to the outside. Local product, guard Kenneth Santa Marina, is the team's best prospect and needs to add more to the ground game as soon as possible.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 88. That Class Was Heavy On ... Players who do what Curtis Johnson will want. The Green Wave has to get the passing game going, and Johnson, the new head man, will want to wing the ball all over the yard. Quarterback is fine for the next two years, but the position will be an issue by 2014. Upgrading the pass catchers and the team speed will be vital, even with last year’s class focusing on the receivers. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 108. That Class Was Heavy On ... Pass catchers. The Green Wave got plenty of receivers in 2009, and while there aren’t any sure-thing stars in this class, there’s strength in numbers. Marc Edwards is the most promising prospect of the bunch, and quick Devin Boutte is promising. Tight end was a target with three new recruits including Greg Thomson out of Syracuse and pass catcher Josh Drum. Safety Renaldo Thomas needs to be a starter sooner than later.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 88. That Class Was Heavy On ... Linebackers. The Green Wave has to do something about its defense, and while there isn't any instant help from this class, there are plenty of safety-sized athletes who will upgrade the athleticism and the potential. Ray Oppman will be a fixture on the inside within the next three years, while Zach Davis could be an ideal strong safety or a dangerous playmaker as an outside linebacker. Jamar Thomas has the potential to be the next great Green Wave running back.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 79. That Class Was Heavy On ... receivers. When Jeremy Williams was injured last season, the Green Wave passing attack virtually shut down. That lack of depth and reliable options at wide receiver has prompted Bob Toledo to scour Texas and Louisiana high schools for offensive weapons that can stretch a defense. While there are no sure-things in the group, D.J. Banks and Devin Figaro look like pretty good prospects, and the quantity alone should reap a productive player or two.

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana-Lafayette 24, Tulane 21
Basically … The normally reliable and clutch Cairo Santos missed a 48-yard field goal with nine seconds to play that would’ve sent the game into overtime, but gave the Ragin’ Cajuns the win. ULL roared out to a 21-0 lead with Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each running for touchdowns and Corey Trim returning an interception 82 yards for a score. But Tulane crept back in with two short scoring runs from Orleans Darkwa late in the first half, and tied it on a 22-yard Darkwa dash late in the third. ULL took the lead for good with a 27-yard Hunter Stover field goal, and held on as the offense milked the clock, and the defense caught a break with Tulane starting its final drive in the shadow of its own goal line. The Green Wave got within range, but Santos’ try went just left.

- Tulane committed ten penalties for 85 yards and turned it over three times. ULL turned it over twice and committed seven penalties for 73 yards.
- Tulane QB Nick Montana started the game completing 5-of-8 passes for 63 yards, and Devin Taylor completed ten of 21 passes for 223 yards with a pick.
- ULL QB Terrance Broadway returned from injury to complete 12-of-19 passes for 143 yards and two picks. Jalen Nixon completed his two passes for 14 yards and ran seven times for 29 yards.
- Tulane RB Orleans Darkwa ran 16 times for 83 yards and three scores.
- Tulane WR Ryan Grant caught seven passes for 113 yards and was picked off on a pass attempt.
- Tulane DT Julius Warmsley made four tackles with two sacks and three tackles for loss.
- Louisiana-Lafayette FS Sean Thomas made three tackles with a forced fumble and two picks

at Rice 17, Tulane 13
Basically … Rice won the West and is off to play Marshall for the Conference USA title as Jawon Davis ran for a 16-yard score and Turner Peterson caught a 19-yard touchdown pass. The Owls dominated the game, but it needed several late stops as the Green Wave scored ten unanswered points with Devon Breaux catching a 13-yard touchdown pass and Cairo Santos hitting his second field goal on the day.
- Tulane converted one of 14 third down tries and gained six first downs.
- Tulane rushing: 21 times for 26 yards
- Rice QB Taylor McHargue completed 14-of-28 passes for 180 yards and a score
- Rice had the ball for 39:51, and Tulane had it for just over 20 minutes.

at UTSA 10, Tulane 7
Basically … Sean Ianno hit a field goal with 14 seconds to play to give UTSA the win in a sloppy, defensive-filled game. Tulane scored on a nine-yard Orleans Darkwa touchdown run late in the second quarter, but the offense suffered three turnovers, and UTSA came through with a 68-yard Brandon Armstrong touchdown dash late in the third as part of the ten unanswered points for the win.
- It was ugly. Tulane turned it over three times and committed 14 penalties for 105 yards, and UTSA committed eight penalties and turned it over eight times.
- UTSA QB Eric Soza completed 10-of-25 passes for 183 yards.
- Tulane RB Orleans Darkwa ran 20 times for 103 yards and a touchdown.
- Tulane had the ball for over 37 minutes. UTSA held it for just 22:29.

at Florida Atlantic 34, Tulane 17
Basically … D’Joun Smith picked off three passes and Jaquez Johnson scored from one-yard out in the first quarter and a 49-yarder in the fourth as the Owls overcame a weird week to get the win for interim head coach Pete Rekstis. FAU got down 17-7 in the first half but scored 27 unanswered points helped by a 30-yard touchdown catch from William Dukes and a 24-yard Damian Fortner dash. The Green Wave started out the scoring with a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown from Lorenzo Doss and got a four-yard Orleans Darkwa rushing score with a minute left in the first.
- FAU QB Jaquez Johnson completed just 10-of-21 passes for 107 yards and a pick, but he led the team with 20 carries for 114 yards and two scores.
- Tulane QB Nick Montana completed 7-of-22 passes for 71 yards and three scores.
- The Owls held on to the ball for 36:30 and had 19 first downs to Tulane’s nine.
- The Green Wave averaged just 2.2 yards per carry rushing 28 times for 62 yards.

at Tulane 36, East Carolina 33 3OT
Basically … In the third overtime, East Carolina’s Warren Harvey missed a 34-yard field goal, and Cairo Santos nailed his 42-yard attempt to give East Carolina the win. Santos nailed four field goals in regulation, while Harvey hit four field goals of his own, but it was a Vintavious Cooper two-yard touchdown run in the final few minutes to force overtime. Tulane’s offense struggled in regulation, but the defense did the job with a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown from Derrick Strozier for a 16-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. The two teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes with Ryan Grant scoring from 25 and six yards out for Tulane, while Reese Wiggins caught a 25-yard touchdown pass and Cooper ran it in from two yards out for the Pirates before Tulane pulled it out in the third overtime.
- East Carolina will be kicking itself. Shane Carden threw for 480 yards, but he threw a very, very bad pick six just as it looked like the Pirates were going to take control of the game. Instead of going up 16-9, it was a 16-6 Tulane lead and ECU had to chase. Too many drives resulted in field goals as things bogged down, but the Pirate defense returned the favor with big stop after big stop, not allowing an offensive touchdown until overtime.
- Take it and run. Tulane has an all-star kicker in Cairo Santos, and he showed how much he’s worth with his 42-yard game-winning field goal. The ten penalties were way too many, and the running game went nowhere, but the bend-but-don’t-break defense bent and bent and bent some more, doing a great job of forcing field goals to stay in the game. The secondary might have been roasted, but it’s a win over a team that might be good enough to win the Conference USA title. Now it’s time to consider the 5-2 team for really big things. There isn’t another game on the schedule the Green Wave can’t win.

at Tulane 24, North Texas 21
Basically … Carlos Santos hit a 37-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give Tulane the win and hold off a late North Texas rally. The Green Wave opened up the scoring on a six-yard Justyn Shackleford touchdown catch in the second, and they scored on a blocked field goal for a score from Derrick Strozier and a 59-yard pick six from Lorenzo Doss within two minutes in the third quarter, but the Mean Green rallied back with two Derek Thompson touchdown passes including a 62-yarder to Darnell Smith. But Tulane answered with the game-winning drive.
- Lost in the win for Tulane was an offense that didn’t go anywhere. Orleans Darkwa and the running game were shut down, with the Green Wave finishing with just 94 rushing yards, and Nick Montana threw for just 182 yards, but the defense and special teams came through when needed, and the O got the job done late.
- 11 penalties and two picks weren’t the reason North Texas lost, but they didn’t help. The defense dominated, and Derek Thompson was terrific in the late comeback, but just when the team finally got the tie, it couldn’t hold to force overtime. The Mean Green didn’t give the game away, but this was one they should’ve had. This will hurt in the conference race as the year goes on.

Tulane 31, at ULM 14
Basically … Tulane jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the third quarter on short touchdown runs from Rob Kelley and Orleans Darkwa, and then the defense got into the act on a 33-yard fumble return for a score form Dominique Robertson. ULM’s offense didn’t go anywhere, but Rashan Ceaser returned a punt 88 yards for a score.
- Tulane is playing a little bit of defense. It held Kolton Browning in check and didn’t let him get out of the pocket, while the run defense overall gave up just 26 yards on 24 carries. The line whipped the Warhawk offensive front.
- ULM couldn’t stop making mistakes with five turnovers and seven penalties helping to turn the game into a rout. The offense couldn’t get into the end zone until it was way too late in the fourth.
- Lost in the easy win was a Tulane offense that struggled to get Nick Montana going. He only completed 7-of-20 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown with a pick, but the running game bailed him out.
- Is Brayle Brown going to get more of a shot? He stepped in for Browning and threw for 33 yards and a touchdown, but he also gave up two picks. Neither ULM quarterback option did enough.

at Syracuse 52, Tulane 17
Basically … Terrel Hunt threw four touchdown passes including two to Clay Cleveland as Syracuse had no problems with the Green Wave. Tulane pulled within 11 in the first quarter on a 45-yard Rob Kelley run, but Hunt answered with a 16-yard scoring run to go along with two one-yard touchdowns from Prince Tyson-Gulley and Jerome Smith on the way to a 42-17 first half lead. The Orange scored the final 17 points of the game.
- Terrel Hunt looks like a keeper. He was cool and calm, completing 16-of-21 passes for 175 yards and four scores, and he took off and made things happen on the ground when needed. The offense played one of its sharpest games of the year.
- Tulane ran well, but it didn’t stick with it. The offense relied too much on Nick Montana and the passing attack, and while he was fine, the ground game was productive. The Green Wave ran 28 times, Syracuse 45.
- Orange LB Cameron Lynch led the team with nine tackles with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. The Syracuse defense came up with a nice performance, and Lynch was the one who seemed to stop things before they started.
- Tulane didn’t get any pressure on Hunt. The pass rush was non-existent, and the Orange skill players got to do whatever they wanted.

Basically … Down 9-7 in the third quarter, Tulane reeled off 17 straight points helped by Nick Montana’s second touchdown pass of the game and a 51-yard Cairo Santos field goal. Louisiana Tech got three Kyle Fischer field goals in the first half, and rallied late with an eight-yard Trent Taylor touchdown catch, but that was it.
- The South Alabama loss is even more puzzling now. Tulane has a solid defense, and it showed against the struggling Bulldogs allowing just 289 yards and holding tough against the high-octane passing game.
- The Green Wave overcame four turnovers, screwing up with three fumbles, and had a nightmare of a time in pass protection. The defense was able to hold firm, for the most part. Nick Montana had a great game, completing 20-of-36 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns and a pick despite being sacked six times with IK Enemkpali coming up with 2.5. Louisiana Tech rolled up 11 tackles for loss.
- Kenneth Dixon isn’t back from his knee injury. He ran four times, but for -5 yards. Tevin King has carried the load with 88 yards on 14 carries, but the quarterback play has been way too rough. Scotty Young completed just 9-of-28 passes for 108 yards.
- Julius Warmsley was a force. The Tulane defensive tackle all but camped out in the backfield with a sack, a forced fumble, five tackles and three tackles for loss.

South Alabama 41, at Tulane 39, Sept. 7
Basically … South Alabama was ahead throughout in the Superdome, and briefly squandered its lead toward the end of the third quarter, yet rallied late for a pivotal win for the program. A blocked punt gave the Jaguars the go-ahead score, but the win wasn’t secured until the Green Wave failed on a two-point conversion attempt with 1:19 left in regulation.
- QB Ross Metheny was USA’s MVP, throwing for 290 yards, running for 75 more and accounting for four first-half touchdowns.
- Nick Montana continues to perform well for the Green Wave offense. The transfer quarterback threw three touchdown passes, while connecting with star WR Ryan Grant 14 times for 187 yards and two scores.
- Tulane needs to become a better team on the ground, both offensively and defensively. The Jaguars controlled the line of scrimmage, limiting RB Orleans Darkwa to 32 yards and two scores on 10 carries.
- Defeating a Conference USA opponent—on the road—will provide a big lift to a South Alabama team that won just twice in 2012, once against FBS teams.

at Tulane 34, Jackson State 7, Aug. 29
Basically … The Tulane defense stuffed Jackson State stopping drive after drive with four picks and two recovered fumbles. The offense didn’t have a problem, either, with Orleans Darkwa scoring on two short scoring runs and Nick Montana connecting with Justyn Shackleford from 14 yards out on the way to a 34-0 lead. JSU didn’t score until late in the fourth.
- The Tulane defense camped out in the backfield. Jackson State isn’t exactly a power, but it’s still a major positive to come up with nine tackles for loss. The D was active and aggressive.
- The offensive line didn’t generate enough of a push and struggled in pass protection.
- It might have been an easy win, but Nick Montana only completed 6-of-14 passes for 144 yards and two scores.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … the Green Wave believes it’s sowing the seeds of hope, even if the juiciest fruit isn’t ripe until 2014. A year from now, Tulane will be a member of the Big East, and will be playing in a new 30,000-seat, on-campus stadium. Both are important steps forward for second-year head coach Curtis Johnson, who has inked a notable transfer for each side of the ball, QB Nick Montana from Washington and DT Chris Davenport from LSU.

Why To Be Grouchy … ten consecutive losing seasons have a way of crushing a brand and dispersing a fan base. The Green Wave has won just two games in each of the last two years, and now is being forced to replace QB Ryan Griffin, one of the team’s top offensive producers. Maybe Montana is the answer. But even if he fills the void behind center, Tulane is so needy in so many spots that it’s highly doubtful it’ll snap the postseason drought.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … unleashing the running backs. What better way to support a new quarterback than by giving him a quality ground game? RB Orleans Darkwa is in great shape, and is getting healthy, looking as if he plans to make a salary drive in his final year. Juniors Rob Kelley and Dante Butler will serve as powerful complements. Tulane, though, must improve at the point of attack, meaning the four returning starting linemen have to perform markedly better than they did in 2012.

Non-Conference Games: Jackson State, South Alabama, at Syracuse, at ULM
Games Against the East: East Carolina, at Florida Atlantic
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 6-6

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Jackson State, South Alabama, North Texas, at Florida Atlantic, at UTSA, UTEP

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Louisiana Tech, at Syracuse, at ULM, East Carolina, Tulsa, at Rice

Schedule Analysis: This should be one of the league’s up-and-coming teams, and a 2-0 start against Jackson State and South Alabama should help get everything ready for the Conference USA opener at Louisiana Tech. While there’s only one game outside of Louisiana until November – going to Syracuse on September 21st - a run of three straight September road games will be tough. East Carolina and Tulsa might be the league’s two best teams, but they’re coming to the Superdome wrapped around a much-needed bye week. Going on the road in early November to face Florida Atlantic and UTSA shouldn’t be too bad, and there’s a week off to get ready for UTEP in the home finale. Closing out the regular season at Rice might be a problem.

Team Concerns For 2013: The Green Wave needs to stop the run. The offense might not have cranked out a ton of yards in Curtis Johnson's first season, but the passing game started to work despite the problems in pass protection. The nation's second-worst running game has to be better, but that will only come if the line is far better. The O will come around, but the defense needs to be far more physical after finishing last in the league against the run and second-to-last in scoring and total D.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. With starter Ryan Griffin done, three big passers are coming in with JUCO transfer Nick Montana looking to fill the void immediately after starting out his career at Washington. The secondary is getting the most overall help with safety Nico Marley leading a deep class and Richard Allen and Parry Nickerson adding speed to the outside. Local product, guard Kenneth Santa Marina, is the team's best prospect and needs to add more to the ground game as soon as possible.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 88. That Class Was Heavy On ... Players who do what Curtis Johnson will want. The Green Wave has to get the passing game going, and Johnson, the new head man, will want to wing the ball all over the yard. Quarterback is fine for the next two years, but the position will be an issue by 2014. Upgrading the pass catchers and the team speed will be vital, even with last year’s class focusing on the receivers. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 108. That Class Was Heavy On ... Pass catchers. The Green Wave got plenty of receivers in 2009, and while there aren’t any sure-thing stars in this class, there’s strength in numbers. Marc Edwards is the most promising prospect of the bunch, and quick Devin Boutte is promising. Tight end was a target with three new recruits including Greg Thomson out of Syracuse and pass catcher Josh Drum. Safety Renaldo Thomas needs to be a starter sooner than later.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 88. That Class Was Heavy On ... Linebackers. The Green Wave has to do something about its defense, and while there isn't any instant help from this class, there are plenty of safety-sized athletes who will upgrade the athleticism and the potential. Ray Oppman will be a fixture on the inside within the next three years, while Zach Davis could be an ideal strong safety or a dangerous playmaker as an outside linebacker. Jamar Thomas has the potential to be the next great Green Wave running back.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 79. That Class Was Heavy On ... receivers. When Jeremy Williams was injured last season, the Green Wave passing attack virtually shut down. That lack of depth and reliable options at wide receiver has prompted Bob Toledo to scour Texas and Louisiana high schools for offensive weapons that can stretch a defense. While there are no sure-things in the group, D.J. Banks and Devin Figaro look like pretty good prospects, and the quantity alone should reap a productive player or two.


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