New class crosses state lines
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When Tulane football head coach Willie Fritz began his Green Wave career in late 2015, he had only two months to piece together his first recruiting class. At the end of the 2016 season, the Green Wave finished 4-8.
Now with the benefit of a complete recruiting cycle, Fritz unveiled the 2017 recruiting class on Wednesday. The list of signees focused on talent meant to fill holes in the Green Wave depth chart.
Of the 27 total signees, 21 will enroll next fall, and six are already enrolled and on campus. The early enrollees include two Division I transfers: former sophomore running back Corey Dauphine from Texas Tech and graduate student offensive lineman Hunter Knighton from University of Miami. Due to NCAA transfer rules, Dauphine will miss the 2017 season but has two years of eligibility remaining. Knighton is already eligible due to graduate student rules.
Fritz brought in three transfers from junior college, highlighted by junior quarterback Jonathan Banks, a dual-threat quarterback who fits into Fritz’s signature spread-option offense.
“It’s big to have those guys her, because they get the benefit of lifting with our players, doing conditioning, meeting with the coaches and going through 15 spring practices, so by the time the season rolls around, they’re more like a veteran than a rookie,” Fritz said. “We feel these guys will have an opportunity to compete for a starting position.”
Fritz had a strong recruiting season with high school commits. Out of the 21 players who will be enrolling in the fall, a third of them are designated as three-star recruits by 247sports.com.
“We wanted to increase our athletic talent pool with this class,” Fritz said. “… We feel like the freshmen we signed today will have the chance to be able to play right away as well.”
During his press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Fritz outlined the factors the recruiting staff was looking for while out on the road in the past year.
“… They’ve got to be able to handle the academic rigors of an elite university like Tulane … We’re also looking for guys who are bona fide Division I football players,” Fritz said. “… Last but not least, … you’ve got to find young men with character.”
The collegiate track record of Fritz’s transfer recruits shows the organizational emphasis on academic success and character. Knighton, who graduated from University of Miami with a 3.5 GPA, is an example of this.
While the recruiting staff has focused on finding strong academic prospects, Fritz believes that Tulane’s academic standing, among other factors, can help convince those players to sign with the Green Wave.
“Number one is the opportunity to acquire a world-class education,” Fritz said. “The second thing we’re selling here at Tulane is the opportunity to play big-time Division I football … and you get to do it in the iconic city of New Orleans.”
Selling the benefits of the city of New Orleans is a greater factor under the Fritz recruiting regime. This year’s signees are from 11 different states, and more than a quarter of the recruits are from Texas. A major departure from prior years’ recruiting classes is a lack of athletes from Louisiana. Only two recruits are from the Pelican State.
“We’re going to have to show the young student-athletes in Louisiana that we’re going to provide a consistent winner for them,” Fritz said. “… We’ve got to keep competing because we’re not going to settle for seconds and thirds.”