Nine Tulane players declare for 2023 NFL Draft

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

Nine Tulane players have declared for the 2023 NFL Draft. After a 12-2 season during which the Green Wave won the American Athletic Conference Championship and the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, several players are expected to be selected.

The last Tulane players drafted were Cameron Sample and Patrick Johnson in the 2021 Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles respectively.

Headlining Tulane’s class is running back Tyjae Spears. The AAC Offensive Player of the Year rushed for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns averaging 6.9 yards a carry this season. His rushing yards is fifth best in the nation while his rushing touchdowns are joint second best. Spears also caught 22 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns, including the game winner against Houston. He is one of two Tulane players invited to the Senior Bowl.

Linebacker tandem Dorian Williams and Nick Anderson led Tulane’s defense last season. Williams was also invited to the Senior Bowl after a season where he racked up 131 tackles including 81 solo tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and seven passes defended. His solo tackles are third best in the country. Anderson had similarly impressive numbers with 113 total tackles, 62 solo tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes defended. 

Two Tulane receivers — Shae Wyatt and Duece Watts — entered their names into the draft. Wyatt hauled in 35 catches for 692 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Watts caught 33 passes for 657 yards and eight scores. Watts also has an impressive highlight tape in one-on-one coverage where he is able to leap the highest to catch contested balls.

Tight end Tyrick James emerged as a red zone threat for Tulane this year. The Waco, Texas native caught 25 passes for 285 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

Secondary trio Larry Brooks, Lummie Young IV and Macon Clark all entered their name into the draft. Brooks has been a productive player in his five years at Tulane. The strong safety had a career high in tackles with 90, forced a fumble, had two interceptions and defended three passes. He has nine interceptions and twelve passes defended throughout his Tulane career proving his effectiveness in both the passing and running game.

At free safety, Young managed 52 tackles and an interception this year. He has three interceptions and 11 passes defended in his Tulane career.

Clark is capable of playing both safety and nickelback and was an instrumental player for Tulane. He had 69 tackles, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, two interceptions and four passes defended last season. He is a capable pass rusher as well, which was apparent in 2020 when he managed four sacks.

Despite all the talent leaving Tulane, several key players will remain in Uptown New Orleans. On the offensive side, quarterback Michael Pratt and center Sincere Haynesworth announced on a podcast that they will remain, while defensive end Darius Hodges and cornerback Lance Robinson both announced their intentions on social media.

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