Wave stays local, signing 17 recruits on National Signing Day

Jordan Figueredo, Associate Sports Editor

Despite the growing national reputation of Tulane’s football program, head coach Curtis Johnson has remained committed to recruiting locally and building strong in-state relationships. The Wave signed 17 student-athletes on National Signing Day Feb. 4, including 14 Louisiana natives. 

Johnson has successfully recruited 61 players from Louisiana, 42 of whom are from New Orleans, since Tulane hired him in December 2011. Ten of the 14 Louisiana natives in this year’s recruiting class are from the Greater New Orleans area, and all others are from Florida.

“I said from my very first day here that we wanted to declare this ‘The State of Tulane,'” Johnson said. “We made it a point to keep the local talent here in New Orleans to not only create a great atmosphere on game day but also to build a foundation for a winning tradition.”

The recruiting class consists of nine defensive players, including four cornerbacks, three safeties and two defensive tackles, seven offensive players, including three offensive linemen, two running backs and two wide receivers, and one special teams player.

Five-star kicker and punter Zachary Block will join Tulane in addition to 12 student-athletes who received three-star status from various recruiting services. Eleven recruits ranked among the Top 100 in their respective states, as well as ten ranked among the Top 150 nationally.

“We wanted to get guys who are competitive because this league is a very tough league,” Johnson said. “We wanted to get guys who are used to playing in big games because there won’t be many games that aren’t big games for us in the not-so-distant future.”

Offensively, Tulane added running back Nigel Anderson, wide receiver Darius Williams and offensive lineman Keeyon Smart. Smart will play alongside his brother Tanzel Smart next season, who is a rising junior playing defensive tackle.

Defensively, the Green Wave added defensive tackles John Washington and Brian Webb, cornerbacks Douglas Henry and Taris Shenell, and safeties Malik Eugene and Roderic Teamer.

Johnson has been known to use freshmen in their first year. Thirty-eight true freshmen have taken the field, and 18 have earned at least one start since Johnson became head coach.

“We are going to put the best players we have on the field on game day,” Johnson said. “If the best player is a fifth-year senior, he’ll play. If it’s a true freshman, he’ll go in. We’re looking for this class to make an immediate impact just as others have in the past.”

Johnson has also experienced great success from starting freshmen. Freshmen for Tulane have been awarded All-American honors in his tenure, and three players have been named to conference All-Freshman Teams with rising junior sophomore Nico Marley being named Conference USA’s Freshman of the Year.

“Some of these kids were recruited by some big-time schools,” Johnson said. “We’re glad to have them, and I look forward to seeing them in action when we start preseason camp in August.”

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