Devin Glenn’s tantalizing speed has been little more than a tease through the first 15 games of his Tulane football career.
That may change Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette after his return to his favorite spot.
Green Wave coach Willie Fritz confirmed Sherman Badie (12 carries, 66 yards) will be sidelined with an injury for at least the next two weeks. With that, Glenn moved to running back from wide receiver Tuesday and Wednesday and will get a chance to be a playmaker in the Wave’s four-headed backfield.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “Monday when they told me they were going to put me back in the backfield, joy hit. I know we’ll be running the ball a lot, and it’s my most comfortable position. I feel like once I get the ball around the edge, I’m going to gash them.”
Nicknamed "Jet," Glenn had been grounded since moving to wide receiver when Fritz and his staff began coaching him this spring. Backing up Larry Dace on the outside, he did not catch a pass in Tulane’s first three games.
His small frame (5-foot-7, 155 pounds) and lack of experience at the position hurt him after a stellar career at Warren Easton, where he finished with more than 2,500 yards rushing and 37 touchdowns. He surpassed 1,000 yards while scoring 14 times as a senior, earning a three-star rating from ESPN.com.
At wide receiver, he admitted he struggled to run correct routes as he tried to learn what to do.
“I watched his (Warren Easton) highlight tape on Sunday, and he’s a good back,” Fritz said. “We almost thought about (putting him at running back) last week and we didn’t. He’s real fast. If he’s not the fastest guy we’ve got, he’s one of the fastest.”
Former coach Curtis Johnson touted Glenn’s breakaway ability from the moment he signed in February 2015, but opponents knew what was coming on the rare times he stepped on the field as a true freshman. It was usually a “jet” sweep (Glenn picked up 18 yards on four attempts) or a swing pass (he managed 6 yards on two receptions).
He never saw the open spaces in which he was supposed to thrive as a four-year letterman in track.
Fritz’s offense is vastly different. With opponents concerned about stopping freshman quarterback Johnathan Brantley on the option, running backs Dontrell Hilliard and Josh Rounds and wide receiver Terren Encalade all had room to run on pitches against Navy last Saturday.
“We just want to get the ball on the perimeter and make plays,” Glenn said. “The transition wasn’t really hard. We just went over some plays on the board, and I got it down pat.”
Glenn already has impressed Fritz with his aptitude and attitude, covering kicks while also replacing Badie as the kickoff returner. Against Navy, he appeared close to hitting a seam on the opening kickoff before getting tripped up at the Tulane 21.
Then, after the Wave went three and out, he tore down the field to tackle the Midshipmen’s punt returner for no gain.
It was the second special-teams stop in as many weeks for Tulane’s lightest scholarship player.
“In high school I also played on the defensive side of the ball, so I can hit,” he said. “Coach (Fritz) says he plays his best players on special teams, so playing in all phases is like a compliment to me. On returns, we just have to get bodies on bodies, and I think I’m gone.”
That’s plenty of bravado for a normally soft-spoken guy with a career long return of 36 yards in 12 attempts — but from what he has seen, Fritz believes Glenn can back it up. The player he is replacing, Badie, scored on an 86-yard return against Southern.
“He’s got some juice to him,” Fritz said of Glenn. “I love the way the kid practices. He’s got an endless supply of energy. The guy plays with a lot of passion for the game.”
Fritz said center Junior Diaz, who has not worked out since spraining his left ankle in the second half against Navy, might play Saturday even without practice during the week. If Diaz can’t go, regular right tackle John Leglue will replace him, with Kenneth Santa Marina inheriting Leglue’s spot. Diaz graded out higher than any other Group of Five conference center in Week 3, according to Pro Football Focus. ... Tight end Charles Jones, who started the opener but missed the last two games with an ankle injury, returned to practice Wednesday.