Drama surrounds Tulane’s targets for signing class _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- Tulane University Head Football Coach Curtis Johnson speaks during the team's media day in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

There was some added drama for Tulane coach Curtis Johnson on National Signing Day this year.

After three years of cleanly sweeping up commitments on the first Wednesday in February, Tulane had a bit more anxiety this time around. The Green Wave entered the day with three potential additions to its public commitment list and was only able to land one.

Darius Williams, a three-star wide receiver from McDonough 35 officially faxed in his letter of intent just before noon. It concluded a nearly year-long sojourn with Williams which included a silent commitment and forced the Green Wave to hold off a last-minute visit to Temple.

“Whenever you’ve got good players and good people, guys are going to go after them,” Johnson said. “If we didn’t have Darius Williams locked up, I would have been trying to get a visit from Darius Williams too. That’s what I’ve done. He’s a very good player and we’re happy he’s with us and he’s going to play a lot.”

Those letters of intent never came for Jesuit tight end Foster Moreau or John Curtis safety Hunter Dale.

Moreau, who had originally committed to LSU but appeared to be getting pushed out of the Tigers’ 2015 class, instead stuck with LSU on Wednesday, despite a late push by Tulane’s staff to bring him on board.

“He had good two choices between us and LSU,” Johnson said. “This is a great school. It’s a great choice. But, hey, it’s up to him and his family. Best wishes to him. I’m glad he’s an in-state kid who went to an in-state school.”

Meanwhile, Dale, who has been offered scholarships by a host of power conference schools, chose to put off his decision until later on, claiming he hadn’t yet made up his mind. Despite taking an official visit to Tulane in January, he’s never named a leader or a timetable for his decision.

The Green Wave’s commitment list wasn’t squeaky clean either. Defensive tackle Louis Wings and defensive back Chaz Key declined to attend Tulane as well, though several sources close to the school say it was due to an academic issue which short-circuited the prospects’ acceptance.

Wings ended up signing with Southeastern Louisiana.

“There are always one or two kids that we end up having problems with, one way or the other,” Johnson said. “You know, there’s great competition and our coaches are on kids so soon. We already go two commitments this morning for 2016 kids, so we are moving forward.”

Two for one — plus one

When they were sophomores, Warren Easton cornerbacks Dedrick Shy and Jeremie Francis made a vow that would continue as teammates in college.

“It didn’t matter it if it was D-III, D-IV, whatever,” Shy said. “No matter what happened we were going to keep that promise.”

And they did Wednesday when the pair signed with Tulane along with a teammate, running back Devin Glenn.

“I think it was because we communicate so well on the field,” Francis said. “We knew if we could do that in high school, we could be even better at it in college.”

Francis was the first to commit to the Green Wave. That’s when he started talking up Tulane to Shy and Glenn while also doing the game about the two to the Wave coaching staff.

“He should be a coach,” Shy said of Francis. “He’s got the recruiting part down when it comes to recruiting.”

At Tulane, Shy and Francis will be competing against each other, at least as freshmen.

“That doesn’t bother us,” Shy said. “We’ve been competing since we got here, especially when I was playing receiver.

“It’s the way we motivate each other and push each other.”

Coaching changes

Along with introducing the new stable of talent, Johnson also formally announced changes to his coaching staff.

The Green Wave added two coaches who Johnson was already very familiar with. Former New Orleans Saints assistant wide receivers coach Carter Sheridan takes over receiver duties from Keith Williams and former associate athletic director for football and recruiting operations Doug Lichtenberger will now hold the title of Tulane’s linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.

Additionally, secondary coach Jason Rollins was promoted to co-defensive coordinator, joining incumbent Lionel Washington in that role.

“You want to keep as much continuity as you can, especially when you think the ship is going in the right direction,” Johnson said. “You need guys that understand Tulane and understand where we are, what we’re doing and what we have in front of us. You can’t put guys in here and just expect that they are going to want this, this and this.

“These guys we have are very educated and really understand what we are doing with these kids and what type of kids we have. We have Louisiana kids. I like coaches who cook red beans and rice and all of them do.”

Schedule slated

Tulane also released its non-conference dates for the 2015 season, announcing road games against Georgia Tech (Sept. 12) and Army (Nov. 6) along with hosting home games versus Duke (Sept. 3) and FCS competitor Maine (Sept. 19).

The American Athletic Conference still hasn’t released dates for its league schedule, so the majority of Tulane’s docket is still unknown. However, Tulane will travel to SMU, Memphis, Temple and Navy while hosting Houston, Tulsa, Connecticut and Central Florida.

The announcement allowed Tulane to begin selling and renewing season tickets for the team’s second campaign in Yulman Stadium.