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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Tulane Football making waves in transfer portal

Recent transfer Ty Thompson rocking the Green Wave colors (Nathan Rich)

After a disappointing finish to the 2023 football season, the Tulane University Green Wave faced a lot of uncertainty entering the offseason. Head coach Willie Fritz departed for Houston, Michael Pratt declared for the NFL Draft and a slew of essential seniors across the board were on their way out. However, the Green Wave has seemingly made all the right moves, with new head coach Jon Sumrall putting together arguably the most talented roster in Green Wave history for what will be his first season at the helm.

The loss of head coach Willie Fritz following the American Athletic Conference Championship against Southern Methodist University in December was cause for many to sound the alarms. Fritz elevated the Tulane football program to new heights, capping off the 2022-23 season with a conference championship and an electrifying victory over the University of Southern California in the Cotton Bowl. 

He continued this season with another highly successful year that fell just short. Speculation existed as to whether or not the team would be able to sustain its success following Fritz’s departure, but Tulane was incredibly decisive in identifying Fritz’s successor. 

Only a week after Fritz took the head coaching job at the University of Houston, Tulane hired former Troy University head coach Jon Sumrall to take over as the next head football coach. Seen by many as a “home run” hire, Sumrall was 23-4 in his two seasons at Troy and brings an elite track record of winning and recruiting, especially in the southeastern states. With coach Sumrall in the fold, Tulane football fans finally had something to feel good about following a month of disappointment.

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Less than a month after taking the job, Sumrall made a huge splash in the transfer portal, replacing Pratt with University of Oregon transfer Ty Thompson. Thompson, a four-star recruit out of high school and a five-star recruit in the transfer portal, spent the past two seasons backing up star quarterback Bo Nix at Oregon. Thompson does not have extensive experience playing at the collegiate level, but he has a great frame at 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 220 pounds, and his upside is undeniable. With two years of eligibility remaining, the Green Wave quickly found Sumrall’s quarterback of the future.

Sumrall wasn’t satisfied with just Thompson and he looked for weapons to surround him with. He brought in two highly touted wide receivers back-to-back with University of Alabama transfer Shazz Preston and USC transfer Mario Williams. The two five-star recruits bring a new element of speed and explosiveness to an already talented offense. 

Preston, a Louisiana native, returns home after his freshman season at college football powerhouse Alabama, where he was unable to crack the lineup as a freshman. However, Preston was a superstar in high school and has the potential to break out quickly in this revamped Tulane offense.

Williams, a junior from Tampa, Florida, is a lightning-quick receiver who is great at creating separation and making defenders miss. He was quietly productive this past season at USC, catching 29 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Looking for an expanded role, Williams hit the transfer portal and found a perfect match in New Orleans. 

Sumrall needed a speedster across the middle to go with Preston and former Texas A&M transfer Yulkeith Brown on the outside. The trio of Preston, Williams and Brown gives quarterback Thompson an uber-talented “big three” of weapons to go along with star running back Makhi Hughes in the backfield. It is safe to say there will be fireworks on offense in the Big Easy.

The Green Wave picked up a big-time commitment on defense, too, bringing in cornerback Jayden Lewis. Lewis is ranked as a four-star prospect out of high school and had offers from numerous Power Five schools before committing to Tulane. Originally committed to Auburn University, Lewis brings blazing speed to New Orleans, as he was a track star in Alabama, winning state championships in both the 100 and 200 meter races. Lewis will help mitigate the loss of senior Jarius Monroe, who was a first-team, all-conference cornerback for the Green Wave this season.  

There is no question that Sumrall has done an outstanding job of recruiting high-level players to enhance the roster. Bringing in the best recruiting class in school history in just his first season as head coach is nothing short of incredible. 

However, it is now Sumrall’s job to put it all together as a room full of new faces will be a challenge to gel, no matter the talent. We’ve seen Sumrall do amazing things at Troy, and there are plenty of reasons to believe he can do it again with the Green Wave. There’s a new sheriff in Uptown, plenty of firepower and many expectations, but fans will remain wary until they see it all in action. Get your popcorn ready, Tulanians.

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