Tulane’s quarterback depth chart thinned out considerably this week.
Johnathan Brantley, a sophomore who started three games over two years and was the top backup to junior college transfer Jonathan Banks this season, announced he was leaving Sunday night.
“I’ve asked and been granted my release from Tulane University,” he tweeted. “I really appreciate Coach Fritz and his staff for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their program, but I feel I made the best decision for my future.”
Brantley, from Houston, played the final three quarters against Navy after Banks went down with a rib injury. He started the following week against Oklahoma and played in four other games this year, completing 10 of 17 passes for 101 yards and rushing 34 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
Adept at running option plays, he led the Green Wave to touchdowns on its first two possessions at Oklahoma, scoring one of them himself, but tailed off after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown early in the second quarter. The Wave did not score again in the 56-14 loss, and he played sparingly the rest of the season.
When Banks had to leave for a play on what turned out to be the winning drive in the final minutes against Army a week after the Oklahoma game, the coaches inserted true freshman Khalil McClain instead of Brantley. McClain scrambled for 4 yards before Banks returned and willed the Wave to the end zone.
Brantley’s final significant down was an 8-yard loss after he reversed field against Memphis and could not elude the pursuit when he replaced Banks briefly in the first quarter.
As a true freshman, Brantley played in eight games with two starts in September against Navy and Louisiana-Lafayette, completing 8 of 21 passes for 51 yards and rushing 46 times for 202 yards.
The signal caller he backed up in 2016, redshirt junior Glen Cuiellette, tweeted earlier this week he was looking for a new home in a move that was anticipated. Cuiellette, who attended Mandeville High, started 10 games a year ago but was demoted to fifth string during preseason drills this past August and never entered the quarterback competition.
Cuiellette served as the holder for kicks. His only pass produced a pivotal first down on a fake punt as Tulane snapped a four-game losing streak with an overtime win at East Carolina.
The departure of Brantley and Cuiellette leaves Banks and McClain as Tulane’s only scholarship quarterbacks for spring drills at the moment. The Wave has a commitment from Christian Daniels, a high school senior from Elon, North Carolina, and is pursuing former LSU quarterback Lindsey Scott, Louisiana’s Mr. Football in 2015.
Scott, from Zachary High, guided East Mississippi Community College to the NJAA national championship this season after transferring from LSU in August. He never played a down for the Tigers, redshirting as a freshman and getting buried on the depth chart at the start of preseason practice this past summer.
At East Mississippi CC, he threw for 3,481 yards and 29 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He ran for 729 yards and six scores.
Tulane and coach Willie Fritz recruited him heavily out of high school before he chose LSU. He visited for the Wave’s upset victory of Houston on Nov. 18.
Banks completed 56.6 percent of his passes for 1,797 yards and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions, improving as the season went along. He threw for 565 yards in the last two games and rushed for 239 yards in the last three.
McClain did not play again after his one down against Army, and Tulane is expected to apply for a redshirt year.