TULANE UMASS

Tulane receiver Terren Encalade runs as the Green Wave plays University of Massachusetts on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016.

Tulane wide receiver Terren Encalade is a man of few words but, lately, a slew of big catches.

His past two performances spoke volumes about his ascension into one of the Green Wave’s top playmakers.

Against Louisiana-Lafayette, he became the first Tulane player with three receiving touchdowns in a game since Roydell Williams in 2004, finishing with a career-best seven receptions for 103 yards.

He topped himself Saturday at Massachusetts, gaining 125 yards on seven catches while becoming the first Tulane player with back-to-back 100-yard games since Ryan Grant in 2012.

“It’s been nothing, really,” he said. “I’m just getting the ball thrown to me and catching it. That’s it.”

Teammates and coaches are quick to elaborate for him. Encalade, a third-year sophomore from Belle Chasse, was on the receiving end of maybe Tulane’s prettiest play of the year when he ran under a beautifully thrown touchdown pass from Glen Cuiellette as the Wave took the lead for good against UMass.

“We threw a lot in the summer, and all that work paid dividends on that play,” Cuiellette said. “It was perfect timing, perfect throw and a perfect catch in stride. He’s so smooth like that. He just made it look easy.”

That effortless feel came from hard work. A shoulder injury forced Encalade to redshirt last season after he started the first two games, but he entered the year driven to excel. Nothing slowed him, including the arrival of a new coaching staff with an emphasis on the running game that prompted 2015 leading receiver Teddy Veal to transfer to Louisiana Tech.

Encalade buckled down, and his prospects went up. Cuiellette, his roommate when they were freshmen in 2014, said Encalade constantly texted him during the offseason, asking to throw and catch.

“He’s a very competitive person,” coach Willie Fritz said. “He’s what we’re looking for as far as attitude and the look in his eye in practice and in games. He’s very tough. He has great attention to detail. We thought after the spring this guy was a good player, and he’s just getting a little bit better every day.”

Encalade credits his mother, Kalan Barthelemy, for his work ethic. To support him and his brother — Terrell, a defensive end at Nicholls State — she handles 12-hour shifts at Cenex Harvest States Myrtle Grove Terminal, dealing primarily with shipping traffic at the Port of New Orleans. Her labor makes a two-hour practice seem easy.

Encalade's dramatic rise in production coincided with a move to the slot from outside receiver. The coaches wanted to take advantage of his blocking ability as a bigger receiver (6-foot-1 and 186 pounds) at a position that requires him to take on linebackers at times.

The fringe benefit was his matchup against linebackers and safeties instead of cornerbacks on plenty of his routes.

"It’s different,” he said. “There’s a lot of things going on. There’s a lot on my mind, but I know I can handle it.”

Opponents have not been able to handle him. His 34-yard reception in the third quarter against UL-Lafayette was Tulane’s first passing touchdown of the year, and he followed with 25- and 7-yard scores in overtime. A week later, he burned UMass for the 36-yard touchdown and added a 38-yard gain on a post route.

“It doesn’t look like he’s running real fast,” Fritz said. “But he’s covering a lot of ground.”

Just don’t ask Encalade to talk about his success. He prefers actions to words.

“Once you get to know him, he’s a very loud-mouthed, outgoing guy,” Cuiellette said. “He’s very playful, but initially when I first met him, he was very quiet, then he very slowly started coming out of his shell.”

The transformation in Tulane’s passing game has been much quicker. The Wave, which did next to nothing through the air in its first three games, is making opponents pay with Cuiellette settled in as the starter and Encalade in the slot.

Encalade’s injury-shortened 2015, which prevented him from duplicating a promising 20-catch effort as a true freshman, is a distant memory.

“Glen’s gifted,” Encalade said. “He has a great arm. He’s a great playmaker and a great leader. We’re just blessed to be in the position we are.”