Image Credit: Tulane Athletics
There are two types of Tulane fans – those who are stoked about the Wave’s 2020 recruiting class, and those who should be. Willie Fritz and his staff were able to reel in 18 players from 9 different states in the Early Signing Period, including 4 from the Greater New Orleans area. Per 247 Sports, the class ranks 3rd in the American Conference and 62nd nationally. Tulane also has the second-best recruiting class in the state of Louisiana. While recruiting rankings are not 100% predictive and should not always be taken as gospel, they are often reasonably close and act as a good measuring stick against your competition. Let’s take a quick look at Tulane’s previous recruiting rankings under Fritz:
- 2016: National 97th/ AAC 11th
- 2017: National 112th/ AAC 11th
- 2018: National 68th/ AAC 4th
- 2019: National 94th/ AAC 8th
With the exception of 2018, these classes weren’t highly rated, but contained a lot of “Diamond in the rough” players. These players – Darius Bradwell, PJ Hall, Darnell Mooney, DeAndre Williams, Stephon Huderson, and Patrick Johnson – built the foundation for where Tulane is today. As a small private school in a Group of 5 Conference, Tulane has to be spot on with their player evaluation.
This staff has done a tremendous job getting talented players who may have been overlooked by Power 5 programs. This is a great strategy for building a program from nothing, but we’re not in 2016 anymore. Tulane has a bit of football success to build on, and we’re starting to see them use that to attract higher-rated talent. Let’s take a quick look at the 2020 early signees and their other offers.
This is easily the best class Tulane has had in some time. It also has the potential to get even better on National Signing Day. Willie Fritz and his staff did a great job to not only elevate Tulane’s talent level, but also to address needs. Local prospects Angelo Anderson (14 sacks, 73 tackles) and Noah Taliancich (5.5 sacks, 40 tackles) are two of the best pass rushers in the NOLA area and will help a Tulane defensive front that struggled to get pressure.
Tulane also needed help at defense back. Shi Keem Laister and Cornelius Dyson are both 6-2, 185 lbs, and will be asked to match up with the physical AAC receivers. Reggie Neely projects to be a nickel corner, replacing Tirise Barge, who went into the transfer portal. Tulane was also able to snag talented linebacker Jesus Machado away from Miami (FL), and beat out Boise State for big Defensive Tackle Brandon Brown. Matthew “Hoodie” Hightower is a raw prospect who did not receive any other offers, but has the size to be an FBS-level linebacker.
On the other side of the football, Tulane snagged talented quarterbacks Michael Pratt and Justin Ibieta. Both should compete with Keon Howard for the starting job next year. Tulane also fortified the line with the signings of Joseph Solomon, Rashad Green, Matthew Lombardi, and Josh Remetich. As a group, they average 280 pounds. They will certainly need to bulk up on the best cuisine New Orleans has to offer. The Watts brothers are dynamic receivers who should both play right away out of Jones County Junior College. TE Reggie Brown has good hands and is a physical blocker.
Tulane could potentially add two more players in February with hard commits Elijah Champaigne (DE) and Trey Tuggle (OL). I can confirm that Champaigne follows me on Twitter and has liked some of the memes I made. I guess that qualifies him as a Tulane lock. Trey Tuggle is less of a “hard” commit. It seems like he is thinking it over, although it appears his dad wants him to take the TU offer.
I would be thrilled to land any of these players. It wouldn’t surprise me if Fritz has something up his sleeve and pulls an impact player from the transfer portal. Flipping the commitments of Donovan Kaufman (Vandy) and Shamar Smith (UTSA) is certainly doable. I hated to see Adam Chaney (LB) decommit. Kendarrius Moore (LB) is another decommitment I would like to see reconsider, but he spurned Tulane after the Memphis loss. I’m not confident he will sign with Tulane. Pig Cage, Kevin Bickham, Tanner Hooker, Rae’kwon Starks, and Nyquann Washington should all be good DBs at the FBS level and would look good wearing green.
WRs Tyler Kirkwood and Josh White could compliment the Watts nicely in the receiving corps, both are quick and have strong hands. Mason Narcisse (DL) is a McDouble short of 300 lbs and projects as a good Nose Tackle. Alijah Martin (ATH) is a dual threat QB who I think could fit the Darius Bradwell mold. He has a 6’1” frame and is just shy of 200 lbs. Martin should immediately be sent to the weight room and converted to running back. Tulane only has space to sign 3 or 4 of these players at most, but all of them would be fine additions to a great recruiting class. If the Tulane coaches play their cards right, this could be the most talented class of freshmen to ever step foot on campus.
If there was no National Signing day in February and this Tulane recruiting class was finalized, it would probably still be the best class of the last 20 years. There is work to do yet though. Fritz has said off the record that he wants to sign 22 players total for this year. I believe Tulane will look to add a DB or two and maybe another WR. You can never have enough DB’s in this era of college football. If a tailback blows the coaches away with film, I could see them adding one.