Tulane senior wide receiver and starting punt returner Devin Boutte has asked to leave the program, multiple sources close to the Green Wave told The Advocate on Wednesday.
“I am trying to give him a chance to think about it before I say it officially,” coach Curtis Johnson told The Advocate. “It was his decision.”
Boutte has not practiced this week, and his No. 36 is being worn by another player. West Virginia transfer Trevor Simms, who is listed on Tulane’s baseball roster, practiced as a wide receiver and kicker for the Green Wave, according to various sources at the closed practices.
Simms originally signed with the Rice baseball program in 2012 and also served as the Owls’ backup kicker before transferring to Weatherford College, where he spent one year, before his 28-game stint on West Virginia’s baseball team. Simms is eligible to play immediately for the Tulane football program since he didn’t participate in the sport last season.
Boutte returned 23 punts and 14 kickoffs in 2013 and was atop the punt returner depth chart in Tulane’s season-opening loss at Tulsa. He was reliably sure-handed in punt situations, never dropping or muffing a return, but averaged just 4.1 yards on the 23 occasions he didn’t call for a fair catch in 2013.
His absence shakes up the special teams prior to the Green Wave’s home opener against Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. Saturday at Yulman Stadium.
Junior safety Darion Monroe is now listed as the leading punt returner. A combination of freshmen Leondre James, Dontrell Hilliard and Teddy Veal are expected to be deep on kickoffs.
The door is still being left open for Boutte’s return. He is still enrolled at the university and listed on the Green Wave’s official roster.
Badie bursts on the scene
Tulane running back Sherman Badie waited a long time to get this kind of attention.
After being stuck in crowded backfields while playing for national champion John Curtis High School and redshirting his first season at Tulane, Badie finally got the chance to be a featured running back Thursday. He took full advantage, setting an American Athletic Conference record by rushing for 215 yards against Tulsa, aided by bursts of 90 and 73 yards.
“My phone blew up when I got back to it after the game, so I guess some people finally saw me run,” Badie said. “All of that time of playing as a backup and then sitting out entirely. It felt nice to come out and show everyone how I can truly play my game.”
Since Badie arrived on campus, Johnson has referred to the speedy 6-foot, 195-pounder as a “home-run hitter” for his breakaway speed in the open field. But what Badie did without the ball impressed Johnson just as much Thursday night.
Despite his small stature, Badie proved he was unafraid to seek contact in blocking and protection situations, stemming several blitzes before they could reach quarterback Tanner Lee.
“I think you can credit Tanner for a lot of that,” Badie said of his blocking. “We’ve practiced so much together now that he can let me know where he needs me to be a little bit better, and I’ve gotten to step in and make the blocks I need to. The coaches here always tell us the easiest path to the NFL is to know your protections and know that you can be depended on to block it the right way.”
Still, Johnson claimed he’ll continue to use a variety of running backs in various situations and said there are ample areas Badie can still improve as he prepares for his second collegiate game.
“Just the focus of being a complete back,” Johnson said. “I don’t want him to get reckless with the ball. He’s got to really protect the ball. He just needs to step up 2 more yards so Tanner doesn’t feel the pressure.
“Sometimes he just needs to know when the journey is over. A couple of those runs, I thought it was a fumble waiting to happen. Get down and we’ll have another good play.”