Tulane football draws on in-state resources

Advocate staff photo by SUSAN POAG.Tulane football coach Curtis Johnson applauds during a game against UAB at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Oct. 27. Johnson and the Green Wave begin their second spring practice Wednesday.
Advocate staff photo by SUSAN POAG.Tulane football coach Curtis Johnson applauds during a game against UAB at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Oct. 27. Johnson and the Green Wave begin their second spring practice Wednesday.

Recruiting coordinators have to look on the bright side of things.

Otherwise, they’d be in constant angst over losing a player they had worked so hard to get to commit to a Johnny-come-lately with seemingly better credentials.

So that’s why Tulane’s Doug Lichtenberger sees the fact that two players who had committed to the Green Wave flip in recent weeks as not necessarily a bad thing.

“It shows that we’re fighting and competing for players that other people want,” he said Tuesday on the eve of National Signing Day. “I’d rather be in that position than signing a kid nobody else wants.”

Especially when you’re coming off a 2-10 season under first-year coach Curtis Johnson that was your 10th straight with a losing record.

The two players in question are both from O. Perry Walker — linebacker Lyn Clark, who switched from Tulane to Louisiana Tech to Louisville, and defensive end Corey Smith, who is undecided.

Thus far, they’re the only defectors from a class that is the most Louisiana-heavy the Wave has had in memory (16 of 21), with two others possibly coming on board Wednesday.

Linebacker Edward Williams of Warren Easton, who decommitted from Texas A&M last month, is down to Tulane and Texas Tech. A Class 4A all-state selection, he made an official visit to Tulane last weekend.

And running back Eugene Brazley of Carver, still officially an Ole Miss commitment, is giving the Wave a final look before deciding.

One of Tulane’s most solid commitments, quarterback Tanner Lee from Jesuit, played in Saturday’s Lake Pontchartrain Prep Classic with Brazley and Smith. He used the occasion to continue selling them on the Wave.

“We’ve all been communicating with each other,” Lee said. “We’ve got a chance to make this a very special group with unbelievable chemistry because we’ve known each for so long and are so comfortable with each other. So if there a couple still on the fence, I’m going to do what I can to bring them in.”

Safety Leonard Davis of East St. John said he felt the same way, even though he took a visit to Memphis after committing to Tulane during the summer.

“Nobody has any problems with somebody making sure they’re doing what’s best for themselves,” he said. “But we’re going to be a class that brings a lot of athleticism to the program, and we’re also going to be very close-knit.

“I see us having a winning record and going to a bowl game this year and winning a conference championship when we’re sophomores.”

That would be 2014, when Tulane is scheduled to both move into its new on-campus stadium and become a member of the Big East. And even though the Big East that the Wave is joining will look much more like the present Conference USA than its current makeup, Lichtenberger pointed out that it’s still a far stronger conference than C-USA will be in 2014, so there’s a need for this to be a strong class.

“The guys we’re signing ... are going to be maturing and ready to play major roles by then,” he said. “We’re not just rolling the dice hoping guys develop. And when you sign a large number of players from one area, it can set the tone in influencing others to follow.”

Many, if not most, of the signees, Johnson added, will be counted on as true freshmen.

“This is not a redshirt program,” he said. “If you can come in and are ready to play, then you’re going to. We absolutely think we’ve got a lot of guys who can.”

Among that number are Davis, offensive linemen Kenneth Santa Marina and Chris Taylor, defensive tackle Tanzel Smart and defensive back Nico Marley.

And that’s not to mention quarterback Nick Montana, a junior-college transfer who has enrolled and is considered the top contender to clam the starting role when spring practice begins next week.

Three players added

Tulane added three players to its spring roster, including defensive tackle Chris Davenport, who transferred from LSU. The others are deep snapper Michael Lizanich and cornerback Jordan Sullen; all three are eligible to play this coming season.

Davenport played 11 games as a junior in 2012, mostly on special teams, after playing 10 games on the offensive line in 2011. He graduated with a degree in general studies and will pursue his master’s at Tulane.

Sullen is a three-year letterman who was not with the team last year. The former Karr standout led Tulane with 10 pass breakups in 2011, and he added 42 tackles.

2013 schedule announced

Tulane’s 2013 schedule, released Tuesday, includes trips to Syracuse and Louisiana-Monroe.

Tulane opens Aug. 31 against Jackson State in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, then hosts South Alabama on Sept. 7. The next three weeks yield treks to Louisiana Tech (Sept. 14) for the Bulldogs’ first C-USA game, to Syracuse (Sept. 21) and to UL-Monroe (Sept. 28) before the Green Wave returns to C-USA play by hosting North Texas on Oct. 5.

East Carolina visits Oct. 12, followed by Tulsa (Oct. 26), at Florida Atlantic (Nov. 2), at Texas-San Antonio (Nov. 9), vs. UTEP (Nov. 23) and at Rice (Nov. 30). Game times have not been announced.