Tulane’s Saturday football practice followed a similar script to most of the others in the spring, but coach Willie Fritz labeled it a rousing success.
The difference was the audience. More than 100 high school prospects attended junior day at Yulman Stadium, giving the Green Wave’s recruiting effort a nice boost.
“A big part of running a successful Division I program is, you’ve got to recruit year-round,” Fritz said. “We’re really blessed. We’re in a hotbed of high school football here in New Orleans and we’ve got guys here from all over Louisiana. We have people here from Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and quite a few kids from Texas. A lot of bona fide Division I football players came and watched the Wave practice today.”
Among the juniors in attendance were several Rivals.com three-star prospects, including St. Aug quarterback Justice McCoy, Brother Martin wide receiver Jeremy Singleton, Riverdale linebacker Josh Clarke, West Monroe defensive end Dennis Collins and Neville defensive backs Corey Straughter and Jacorion Andrews.
The audience also featured a trio of three-star recruits from Georgia — Ryan Glover and cornerback Jeff Hubbard from College Park Woodward Academy and running back Jalen Greene of Tyrone Sandy Creek.
“We have a world-class education, and not too many schools in the country have that to sell,” Fritz said. “We have a beautiful campus. They also saw us on the field. We have a great group of coaches, and they saw how we operate.”
Next Saturday, Fritz will conduct a coaches’ clinic in conjunction with practice.
“I think we’re going to have a couple hundred coaches here,” he said. “We’re going to go Friday and Saturday, and we’d love to have as many coaches here as possible.”
A true receiver
During a short 11-on-11 session at the end of Saturday’s practice, Trey Scott beat everyone deep but couldn’t run down an overthrown pass from freshman Darius Bradwell. A little later, Scott almost pulled down a spectacular one-handed catch of a deep sideline ball Devin Powell threw over his wrong shoulder, losing it on his way to the ground.
Scott, a 6-foot-2, 222-pound rising junior who caught 18 passes for 205 yards as a tight end last year, looked nothing like a tight end, because he isn’t. He has been a wide receiver from the first day of spring practice under Fritz.
“I’m a pure receiver,” he said. “We’re all competing for the No. 1 spot. I would have gone either way, but I feel like I’m a better fit for receiver in this offense.”
Scott had almost as many catches a year ago as the combined total for returning wideouts Terren Encalade, Rickey Preston, Larry Dace and Andrew Hicks (25). Speed is no issue for Scott — he considers himself a candidate for fastest player on the team despite arriving as a tight end.
Versatility is key
Another fastest-man candidate is Devin Glenn (5-8, 164 pounds), who is playing H-back after requesting the move a week into Fritz’s tenure. Glenn had four carries and two receptions as a true freshman under Curtis Johnson while practicing with the running backs.
“I was ready for a fresh start, and this offense fits my play style more,” he said. “It’s a faster system with no slowing down. I can dash by guys and keep going.”
The H-back often goes in motion before the snap, and the role requires versatility that could test Glenn’s limits.
“The guy’s got to do everything,” Fritz said. “He’s got to be able to run around, split and play out on the perimeter and seal-block defensive ends and lead on linebackers and be a great pass protector at times as well.”
Learning from scratch
Running the option in Saturday’s practice, Powell tossed an errant ball that bounced in front of his intended pitch man. Again.
Mistakes on the option have been manifold in the first two weeks of spring drills, forcing Fritz to alter his approach. The Wave had no option plays in Johnson’s four-year tenure, so Powell and third-year sophomore Glen Cuiellette are unfamiliar with the basic technique.
“I took the ball-handling for granted,” Fritz said. “I was at Sam Houston for four years, and those guys had run some option. I went to Georgia Southern and those guys had been running option since they were babies. The mesh point, pitching the ball — these guys had never done it before. That’s the big difference. We have to really accent that a lot more than any place I’ve ever been.”
Cornerback Parry Nickerson, who sat out practice all week with a leg muscle strain, might return as early as Monday, Fritz said. Sophomore Dedrick Shy has taken reps with the first unit in his absence. ... John Leglue and walk-on Aaron Golub handled the snaps when the Wave practiced field goals and punts Saturday. ... Defensive tackle Calvin Thomas, who would have been a fifth-year senior, elected not to return to the team this spring. ... Fritz said his ideal offense would run 40 to 50 times a game and throw 20 to 30 times.