Ranking the top ten Tulane athletics alumni of all time

Jake Blancher, Associate Sports Editor

In its illustrious existence as both an athletic and academic powerhouse, Tulane University has produced many noteworthy athletes. Our crop of sports heroes is especially noteworthy due to Tulane’s longtime inability to attract top-level high school athletes. With many of the so-called “sure things” attending larger public universities, our stars have emerged from under the radar to achieve greatness at the professional level. With grit and courage, Tulane’s best athletes have been forced to climb mountains much steeper than athletes at more prolific, athletics-focused universities. This begs the question: who is Tulane’s best product at the professional level? After much internal debate, here’s what we’ve concluded:

Tennis legend Linda Tuero, star running back Matt Forte, and two-way baseball player Micah Owings are some of Tulane’s most notable athletic alumni. (Cecilia Hammond)
  1. Dominik Koepfer

Though his career has just started, Dominik Koepfer’s immediate success in professional tennis earns him the 10th spot on the list of top 10 Tulane Athletic Alumni. Koepfer was a highly decorated player while playing collegiately at Tulane, including two NCAA All-American selections and winning the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Men’s Senior Player of the Year award in 2016.  Since his professional debut in late 2016, Koepfer has already competed in all four Grand Slam majors, and is currently ranked 61st in men’s singles. 

  1. Michael Thompson

At number nine, the only golfer to crack this list is active player Michael Thompson. Thompson was a part of Tulane’s last golf team before it was disbanded after Hurricane Katrina. Thompson found success early in his career, earning his first of two invites, 2008 and 2013, to the prestigious Masters Tournament at just 23 years old. Thompson has two Professional Golfers’ Association tour wins to his name, the Honda Classic in 2013 and the 3M Open, which he won this past July, in addition to a second-place finish at the 2012 US Open.

  1. Micah Owings

Coming in at No. 8, Micah Owings is far from your ordinary baseball player. He was drafted out of Tulane by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a pitcher, but was a two-way player in the big leagues. The Diamondbacks quickly learned that Owings could be dangerous with his bat, unlike most pitchers. In fact, over his seven-year stint in the bigs, he was used as a pinch hitter 48 times, accruing a career .283 average and nine home runs, earning a silver slugger award for the best hitting pitcher in 2007. During one outing in his 2007 season, he went four for five from the plate, including two home runs, four runs, and six RBIs.

  1. Eddie Murray

Despite bouncing between six different teams over the span of six years towards the end of his career, Eddie Murray was a model of consistency as kicker for the 1980s Detroit Lions, earning a spot on the all 1980s NFL Decade Team. Over his 11 seasons with the team, starting in 1980, Murray converted on 75.1% of his kicks, good enough for four All-Pro appearances and two Pro Bowl selections. In 1994, as a part of the Dallas Cowboys, Murray earned a Super Bowl ring.

  1. Rodney Holman

Rodney Holman was an NFL tight end in the late 20th century, and was a critical part of the Super Bowl-losing 1989 Cincinnati Bengals, in a season where Holman caught 50 passes for 736 yards and nine touchdowns. That season was the second of three consecutive years where Holman was both a Pro-Bowler and All-Pro tight end, between 1988 and 1990. Over his 10 years with Cincinnati, Holman amassed the most receptions and second-most yards by a tight end in Bengal’s history.

  1. Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown is yet another intriguing Tulane baseball player. Aside from hitting a blistering .439 in his four World Series appearances with the New York Yankees in 1947, 1949, 1950 and 1951, Brown fought in the Korean War, served as interim president of the Texas Rangers, became president of the American League and perhaps most shockingly, earned a cardiology degree from Tulane Medical School.

  1. Matt Forte

The most well-known Tulane athletic alumni of the 21st century, Matt Forte, comes in at No. 4. Not only was Forte dominant on the collegiate level, including a 2007 season where Forte shattered Tulane’s single season rushing yards record by over 700 yards, he also was a highly versatile starting running back for the Chicago Bears over his eight seasons with the team. Forte was selected to two Pro Bowls in his career, and is 33rd all time in career rushing yards.

  1. Max McGee

Max McGee was a punter and wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers in the middle of the 20th century. McGee was no more than an adequate player on a Green Bay Packers dynasty, winning five NFL championships, after a brief stint in the Air Force. McGee is best known for his legendary performance during the first ever NFL Super Bowl. As an aging veteran, nobody expected much from McGee during the championship event. Yet, he recorded one of the greatest single-player performances in Super Bowl history, recording 138 yards and two touchdowns, en route to what should have been a Super Bowl MVP award — which was given to legend Bart Starr instead.

  1. Linda Tuero

While attending Tulane, Native Louisianian Linda Tuero competed on the professional tennis circuit while also playing on the Green Wave tennis team, becoming the first woman to make the varsity squad. By the time she graduated Tulane cum laude, she claimed three national amateur tennis championships. A dominant force on clay courts, Tuero went on to a storied professional career, winning the Italian Open and ranking as the10th best female tennis player in the world. 

  1. Richie Petitbon

Determined to enter the world of collegiate sports close to home, New Orleans’ own Richie Petitbon enrolled at Loyola University New Orleans after landing a track and field scholarship. By the time he completed his freshman year, he decided to cross Freret Street to play quarterback for Tulane. In 1959, the Chicago Bears landed Petitbon with the 22nd pick of the NFL draft where he was a fixture in the defensive backfield, converting to safety for a decade. He recorded 37 interceptions during this time, good for second all time in Chicago Bears career interceptions, trailing leader Gary Fencik by just one pick. While keeping his three Super Bowls rings, the four-time pro bowler hung up his cleats in 1972, but returned to football in 1978, becoming the Washington Football Team’s defensive coordinator for 11 years and head coach for one year.