Snapshot: Tulane football by position with spring practices on the horizon

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Michael Pratt
(Photo: Parker Waters)

The Tulane faithful will honor the celebrated success of the 2022 Green Wave football squad next weekend with a public festive gathering. Fans are already asking questions about the chances for an encore next season.

What kind of team will Willie Fritz field for the 2023 campaign? Can the program sustain the success enjoyed this past season?

Here is what the team looks like as the Green Wave begin preparing for spring practice in the upcoming weeks.

QB

It all starts with Michael Pratt, who will be a four-year starter and three-time team captain in 2023. He is the unquestioned leader of the team.

Having played in 33 games, Pratt is 2,003 yards shy of overtaking Patrick Ramsey as the school’s all-time leading passer. He also will become the Wave’s all-time leader in touchdown passes on his sixth scoring toss next fall. Pratt has 68 touchdown passes and has demonstrated his running skill, accounting for 23 rushing touchdowns.

Currently considered a draftable prospect, Pratt chose to return to school to continue his development. He will join the fraternity of former Tulane quarterbacks to play in the NFL, including Ramsey (1st round), J.P. Losman (1st round), Lester Ricard, Shaun King (2nd round) and Nickie Hall.

Kai Horton ended this past season as the primary backup. The 6-foot-4 Texan has shown great promise.

RB

The backfield is in capable hands despite the loss of superstar Tyjae Spears. Shaadie Clayton-Johnson and Iverson Celestine solidified themselves as capable runners who can continue the tradition of outstanding players at the position for the Wave. Celestine has shown the ability to run between the tackles, while Clayton is a hone run threat.

WR

The losses of Duece Watts and Shae Wyatt, who represent 68 catches for 1,349 yards and 15 scores from this past season, will be felt. The pair will be replaced by a collection of players who may have provide more overall deep speed, individuals who can turn a 10-yard pattern into a long score are on the roster.

Jha’Quan Jackson is one who will have to see the ball more often. He has shown that he can not only be a return threat but a complete receiver, including blocking.

Formerly at Notre Dame and McDonogh 35, Lawrence Keys is more than just a deep decoy and gadget reverse option. With 4.35 speed, he has improved his route running and playmaking skills.

Dontae Fleming comes aboard as a transfer from ULL. He brings experience. Chris Brazzell (6-4, 180) chas good speed and length. He will return after missing ’22 with injury. Btyce Bohannon (5-9, 180) from Conway, Texas will be a player to watch this season. He has admired Tavon Austin as a young receiver.

The strength of the offense may be the receiving corps.

TE

Reggie Brown will slide into the spot vacated by Tyrick James. The former has identical size and similar skills to his predecessor.

OL

The offensive line is in good shape with solid depth.

LSU transfer Cam Wire arrives, ready to take the left tackle spot left open with the graduation of four-year starter Joey Claybrooks. Right tackle Rashad Green and right guard Josh Remetich return. A 2023 signee, Landry Cannon (6-4, 330) will push for immediate playing time.

Prince Pines, a transfer from Sam Houston State, earned first team All-AAC this season. The 6-4, 345-pound left guard is a road grader.

Starting center Sincere Haynesworth (6-1, 305), also All-AAC this year, is set to be a four-year starter. The Pearland, Texas native is a consummate leader on and off the field. He fires off the ball with good power, gets to the second level and picks up stunts or blitzes quickly.

Haynesworth could become the third center in Tulane history to play in the NFL, joining James Campen (1987-’93) and Lester Gatewood (1946-’47).


Meanwhile, the defense will once again be the strength of the team. There will be holes to fill.

Arguably one of the best linebacker tandems in school history, Nick Anderson and Dorian Williams will be hard to replace. They totaled 244 tackles, 15.5 TFL and seven sacks last season.

The safety trio of Macon Clark, Larry Brooks and Duke transfer Lummie Young will be equally missed. The group brought leadership and outstanding tackling skills. The competition will be fierce in the secondary but the returnees may have overall more speed to offer there.

CB

Jarius Monroe made 49 stops and eight pass breakups in a first-team All-AAC campagin. He has confidence and the traits of a leader. One of his three interceptions came in the Cotton Bowl.

Jaden Canady is another corner who could line up in a number of spots due to his versatility. He had 20 tackles and three breakups.

Rayshawn Pleasant (6-0, 180) is a player to watch. The West Monroe product missed 2022 with injury. With 4.4 speed, he has worked extra hard to strengthen his body. Among the best cover corners on the squad, Pleasant will also strike you. He can be special.

A.J. Hampton (5-11, 180) arrives from Northwestern as a grad transfer who is both smart and physical. He possesses superb cover skills to perhaps be a lockdown option for the Green Wave.

Ohio State star receiver Emeka Egubuka was held to two catches for six yards largely matched up against Hampton, who played in 38 games for the Big Ten school. In 2021. he was tied for conference honors with 13 pass breakups.

Destrehan’s Kevin Adams, 2023 signee, has 4.42 speed and squats 475 pounds. He can be special even as a true freshman this season. Adams is a heat-seeking missle with outstanding quickness. He is also a very humble young man.

Nickel defender Kentrell Webb is still learning but has a chance to have a breakout year. He will challenge Lance Robinson, who had 34 tackles and five breakups. Robinson, the transfer from Kansas State last offseason who starred at De La Salle, brings big time experience and dynamic playmaking ability to the backend of the Wave defense.

The safety spots will be manned by D.J. Douglas, a free safety who had 21 tackles and an interception in ’22. and Carencro product Bailey Depanie (6-1, 180) at strong safety. Showing terrific ball skills and good open field tackling ability, Douglas tacked on extra weight and strengthHe has a high football IQ.

Another 2023 signee, Jahiem Johnson out of Hammond, could play anywhere in the secondary, but he may get an early look at safety. He is a scoring machine on the basketball court.

Shi-Keem Laister and Kiland Harrison have excelled on special teams. Harrison is among the fastest players in college football with sub-4.3 speed.

Hunter Summers (6-2, 170, 4.45), 2023 signee, will get looks as a defensive back and wide receiver. He collected 56 passes for 1,00 yards and 17 scores as senior in ’22.

Tyler Grubbs
(Photo: Tim Smith)

LB

Redshirt sophomore Corey Platt (6-1, 210) had 25 stops with a pair for losses and a sack. He has NFL potential once he figures it all out. Despite serving as a backup last season, Platt displays natural leadership skills.

Jesus Machado (6-0, 220) out of Miami is an extremely hard worker. He tallied 40 stops last season.

Louisiana Tech transfer and former Holy Cross star Tyler Grubbs (6-1, 224) can play in a Tampa 2 defense as a middle linebacker. Highly intelligent and instinctive with 4.6 speed, Grubbs reads and reacts. Good in coverage, Grubbs arrives with an impressive resume’ that includes nearly 500 tackles in high school and 242 stops in 27 games at Tech. He missed part of the 2022 season due to injury.

New signee A.J. Thomas will have a chance to see the field.

NT

Adonis Friloux returns after missing the ’22 season with an injury. Able to squat 675 pounds, he anchors the middle and demands double-team blocking. He can make plays and disrupt blocking schemes. Eric Hicks started in his absence and turned in a solid job with 28 tackles and 1.5 for loss.

DT

Patrick Jenkins, the TCU transfer and John Ehret alum, had 39 tackles, 9.0 for losses and 3.0 sacks in first first Tulane season. He recorded a safety in the Cotton Bowl. Jenkins brings tremendous skills and strenght at the point of attack. He is someone who could play on Sundays.

Destrehan product Noah Taliancich gained starter’s experience this past year and gives maximum effort every time he steps between the white stripes. A three-star signee in 2022, Kameron Hamilton (6-4, 290) is powerful and plays with great technique. He could develop into a player of Friloux’s stature.

Joker (OLB)

Darius Hodes (6-1, 265) has 24.5 tackles for losses and 10 sacks the past two seasons. He is a playmaker off the edge who can bring pressure. Hodes is among the best in the conference, a second team All-AAC selection.

Devean Deal had 30 tackles (three for losses).

Two 2023 signees will push for playing time. Neville’s Matthew Fobbs-White had 11 sacks in 2022. He disengages quickly and comes off the edge in a blur with great technique. Tulane had to hold off TCU, Baylor, SMU, Oklahoma State and Memphis in order to sign MFW in this class. St. Aug’s Jah’rie Garner with is 4.7 speed is also powerful. He uses his hands very well.

DE

Keith Cooper and Angelo Anderson will have the spotlight on them. It’s time for both to step up. Cooper (6-5, 275) had 22 tackles (4.0 for losses) and 3.5 sacks. Anderson, a John Curtis product, has shown flashes. The game has begun to slow down for him.

Portal life means more transfers may come and go but expect more of the former for a program that is now awfully attractive after its best campaign in modern history.

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Rene Nadeau

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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