Tulane nets three All-CUSA first team selections

Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZATulane quarterback Ryan Griffin, right, congratulates wide receiver Xavier Rush after a big play during last week's home finale against East Carolina. Griffin, a fifth-year senior, plays his final college game Saturday when Tulane faces Houston.
Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZATulane quarterback Ryan Griffin, right, congratulates wide receiver Xavier Rush after a big play during last week's home finale against East Carolina. Griffin, a fifth-year senior, plays his final college game Saturday when Tulane faces Houston.
By Advocate news services

New Orleans - The Tulane football trio of juniors Ryan Grant and Cairo Santos and senior Billy Johnson headline the Green Wave's selections to the 2012 All-Conference USA First Team, while a total of nine TU players received all-conference accolades, as selected by the league's 12 head football coaches.

Tulane's three first team selections are the most for the Wave since 2001 and a total of six players received honorable mention All C-USA honors, including senior quarterback Ryan Griffin, senior offensive tackle Eric Jones, senior defensive end Austen Jacks, junior defensive tackle Julius Warmsley and the freshmen cornerback duo of Lorenzo Doss and Jordan Batiste.

A native of Beaumont, Texas, Grant is a first time selection to the all-conference team and is the first Tulane receiver to receive all-league first team accolades since Roydell Williams in 2004. Grant started all 12 games and completed the third-best season in school history with 1,149 yards and six touchdowns on 76 receptions, the fifth most catches in one season. Grant tied Green Wave All-American Marc Zeno's 1987 record for the most 100-yard receiving games with seven.

Grant was C-USA's leader in receiving yards per game (95.75) and total receiving yards while sitting third in receptions per game (6.33) and 11th in all-purpose yards per game (95.75). He concluded the year ranked 18th among NCAA players in receiving yards per game and tied for 27th in catches per contest. Grant will enter his senior season with at least one catch in the last 20 games he has played in.

Santos, who hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil, but prepped as an exchange student at St. Joseph's Academy in St. Augustine, Fla., completed one of the finest seasons by a kicker in NCAA history, finishing a perfect 21-of-21 on field goal attempts. Santos is a first time member of the All C-USA first team and is the first Tulane kicker to garner all-league first team honors since Seth Marler in 2001.

A 2012 Lou Groza Award finalist, Santos joined 1996 Groza winner Marc Primanti as the only kickers in FBS history to stay perfect throughout a season in which they attempted 20 or more, but Santos finished with one more make than Primanti, who finished 20-of-20 in 1996.

Santos, who also connected 27-of-28 PAT attempts, led the nation with 12, 40+ yard field goals, including a pair of 50-yarders, and set the school record with a 57-yarder vs. Rice, which tied for the fourth longest in the nation this season. He led C-USA in field goal percentage (1.000), field goals per game (1.75) and ranked eighth nationally in field goals per game while sitting fifth in kicking points scored (89) per game (7.4), tied for fifth in PAT percentage (.963) and was seventh in overall points per game (7.4).

A native of Braselton, Ga., Johnson played an instrumental role on Tulane's special teams success in his first and only season with the Green Wave. A transfer from the University of Georgia, he played in all 12 games in 2012, handling snapping duties for all 71 punts, and was the deep snapper for Santos' 21 field goals and 28 PAT tries. Johnson is the first Tulane deep snapper named to the all-conference first team since Craig Gelhardt in 2008.

A native of Westlake Village, Calif., Griffin completed his standout career ranked among the school's top-10 leaders in 12 difference categories. He threw for 9,036 yards and 56 touchdowns on 836-of-1,396 attempts (.600) and owns school records for completions, completion percentage and attempts and ranks second in passing yards and 300-yard games (10) and fourth in touchdown passes.

This season, he missed three and half games, but still passed for 2,771 yards and 20 touchdowns, which ranked seventh and 10th, respectively, among the schools single season leaders. Griffin's 308 passing yards per game this season is the second-best total in a single season, trailing only Patrick Ramsey's 310 per game in 1999.

Jones, who hails from Hoover, Ala., started all 12 games at right tackle and helped the team average 319.5 yards of total offense per game. He paved the way for a season-high 619 yards of total offense, including a season-best 153-yard showing on the ground, vs. UAB and provided protection for Griffin's school record 476 passing yards vs. Rice and 466 passing yards vs. UAB. Jones was the only player with a collegiate start on the offensive line to begin the season.

One of the Wave's most experienced defensive linemen, Jacks started all 12 games, led the team in tackles for loss (10.0) and sacks (5.0) while sitting tied for seventh with 45 tackles (22 solo, 23 assists). The Winter Park, Fla., native ranked tied for 13th among C- USA players in tackles for loss per game (0.83) and was 16th in sacks per outing (0.42). He recorded a season-best eight tackles with a sack vs. Rice and against Houston and racked up six tackles and a career-high 2.0 sacks vs. SMU. Jacks completed his career ranked 10th all-time in sacks with 12.0.

A native of Baton Rouge, Warmsley played in 11 games with nine starts and led the team in blocked kicks (2) while sitting tied for second in sacks (3.0) and forced fumbles (1), and tied for third in tackles for loss (6.0) while tallying 26 tackles. He came away with blocked field goals in consecutive games (UL-Lafayette/SMU) and his blocked field goal in the first half vs. SMU helped the Wave to a 27-26 win. Warmsley produced a season-best five tackles with a sack among 1.5 tackles for loss vs. Rice.

A native of New Orleans and product of St. Augustine High School, Doss played in all 12 games with nine starts as a true freshman and led the team with five interceptions, the most by a TU player since Sean Lucas' five picks in 2003. Doss tied for second among C-USA players and ranked 11th nationally in interceptions while sitting tied for second in fumble recoveries (1), sixth with 44 tackles and tied for sixth in pass break-ups (2). He was named the Louisiana co-Defensive Player of the Week after picking off a pair of passes and tallying a career-high six tackles vs. UAB. He also had six-tackle performances at UL-Lafayette, at UTEP and vs. Rice.

Batiste hails from Gramercy and prepped at Lutcher High School and was another rookie who made an immediate impact during his first season. As a true freshman, he played in all 12 games with 10 starts and led the Wave with eight pass break-ups. He notched one interception and tied for seventh with 41 tackles to go with 1.0 tackle for loss. Batiste tallied career highs with six tackles vs. SMU and recorded his first career interception vs. East Carolina. Batiste turned back a career-high four pass break-ups at Houston in the season finale.