Tulane’s joint football camp with LSU last Friday at Yulman Stadium already is paying dividends for the Green Wave.
Donaldsonville defensive tackle Davon Wright and Gainesville (Florida) Buchholz guard Stephen Lewerenz became the Wave’s second and third commitments for the 2018 class this week. Both of them cited their experience at the camp with coach Willie Fritz and his assistants as factors in their decisions.
“It’s a great coaching staff,” he said. “They really take the time to work with you on what you need help on the most. They were breaking down each drill step by step, and they are down to earth. I felt like I was at home when I was there.”
Recruited heavily by Navy, he has not received any offers from Power Five conference schools yet, but he added it would not matter. He expects Tulane, which has endured 13 losing seasons out of the past 14, to improve dramatically under Fritz.
The Wave went 4-8 in Fritz’s debut, but he has won everywhere else he has been, including taking Sam Houston State to back-to-back Football Championship Subdivision title games and leading Georgia Southern to an undefeated conference record in its first year in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“Coach Fritz is going to turn that program around,” Wright said. “He’s one of the top coaches in football. I have faith in him. We are going to build the school spirit back up. I feel I’ll have the opportunity to come in and play my freshman year and be a four-year starter.”
Lewerenz, a two-star prospect according to Rivals, camped at Tulane after his sophomore year and again at the joint camp with LSU.
"Basically they recruited me pretty heavily for the whole year, and they told me, if I would come to camp this June and be good and do your job, you’ll get an offer,” he said. “That’s what happened.”
Lewerenz, who said he is 6-foot-2½ and 275 pounds, anticipates being a guard or center at Tulane; he has played guard and right tackle at Buchholz. He had an offer from Middle Tennessee but felt he was a good fit at Tulane academically — he has a 4.6 weighted GPA — and athletically.
Fritz’s run-heavy, option-based spread system prizes mobility more than size.
“I may not be the strongest guy in the weight room, but when we put the pads on, I go all out,” Lewerenz said. “I’m very quick for a big guy. Tulane is recruiting quicker, more athletic linemen. I feel like I fit their offense that way.”
Like Wright, he expects Fritz and his staff to make a significant impact.
“I love how, every place they’ve been to, they’ve brought it from being average or mediocre to a great program and being relevant in the country,” he said. “I really got a feel that this is the kind of culture I want to be around and play for after high school.”
Wright, a self-described family guy, anticipates one more change as Fritz gets entrenched at Tulane: a huge increase in nearby commitments. After signing six players from Louisiana in his first class and only two this past February, the Wave has two in its first three for 2018. St. Augustine defensive end Juan Monjarres committed in May.
“The guys they bring are going to be mostly Louisiana guys,” he said. “A lot of Louisiana guys like what they are doing. It’s close to home. It’s not too far. They have great football and a great education.”