Fritzmas: Opening the Presents
A look at Tulane’s haul in the early signing period
[Photo via @GreenWaveFootball on Twitter]
Tulane welcomed it’s early signing class from the Class of 2022 today highlighted by New Orleanians and Power 5 transfers Patrick Jenkins, Lawrence Keys and Ashaad Clayton. This trio gives Tulane three former 4 star recruits from New Orleans with multiple years of eligibility left. Tulane fans often lament the perceived failure to recruit New Orleans, but events like today can serve as a catalyst for better local recruiting in the future. As Coach Fritz said, we’re not going to take seconds and thirds just because they are local players. Hopefully Keys, Jenkins and Clayton will serve as examples that staying local can sometimes be the best option.
Overall, Tulane recruited exceptionally well considering the Wave are coming off a 2-10 year. Just as the Wave didn’t quit on the field, Wes Fritz and his personnel team didn’t let a poor record stop them from bringing in another good class.
Tulane signed 17 players in all, and the Wave will have multiple spots available for the February signing period or to use at any time in the transfer portal. There are several good high school players still available, and the portal is always filled with former highly rated players looking for a new home.
Here is a list of players the Green Wave signed today along with my amateur evaluation of each:
HS Signees (13)
Blake Gunter, TE from Madison, MS
Gunter is the highest rated player in this class according to 247 sports. He has good size at 6’3 230 lbs and should fill out to be around 250 lbs before his career at Tulane is done. Gunter is an above average athlete with good ball skills. He has the ability to play as a flex tight end or he could line up as a traditional tight end. The comparison I saw when watching his tape is Kylen Granson, the former SMU tight end. They are both in that 6’3 235 lb range and Gunter, like Granson, could be a matchup nightmare on linebackers and safeties.
Taylor Love, LB from Opelika, AL
Love looks exactly like what you expect a good high school linebacker to look like. Around 6’0 and 210 lbs of solid muscle. Love is a very disciplined player who made a lot of plays in high school using his quickness and physicality. He has an ability to stand out and make plays while also playing within the defense, which is something a lot of high school players struggle to do. While Love can sometimes play a little too high, that can be easily corrected. Expect Love to start on special teams early in his career, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he pushes for playing time in the LB rotation in year 1.
Rayshawn Pleasant, DB from West Monroe, LA
Pleasant de-committed from Louisiana Tech after Skip Holtz and La Tech decided to mutually part ways. Tech’s loss is Tulane’s gain. Pleasant is a big corner measuring at 6’0 185. His size, speed and demeanor reminds me a little bit of former Tulane CB Donnie Lewis. While cornerback is a very difficult position to play early, I think Pleasant could be an exception. He played at a very good high school program and he is physically mature. The question for me is whether Pleasant stays at or under 200 lbs or if he bulks up to 210 and ends up as a safety with good range and ball skills. Either way, Pleasant has the potential to play a lot of football for the Wave.
Jalen “Speedy” Rogers, WR Miami, FL
When you have a nickname like Speedy you’d better back it up, and Jalen Rogers certainly does. Rogers, who committed to Tulane early in the process, did not update any of his online highlights during the season to try and gather more offers (that’s commitment right there). In looking at the tape that is available on Rogers, you see a guy with “easy speed.” He doesn’t look like he’s trying hard as he’s leaving guys in the dust. Speedy is small at 5’9 and 150 lbs, but he knows how to protect himself. Another thing that stood out on tape is that even when he’s juking guys or making moves in the open field, Speedy always seems to be gaining yardage. There are no false steps. Speedy will compete for playing time this year in what should be a wide open receiver competition.
Carson Haggard, QB Gulliver Prep, Miami, FL
Haggard had a great year throwing the ball for Gulliver Prep. He completed 60% of his passes for over 3,000 yards 35 TD and 6 INTs. Haggard shows good accuracy and anticipation. What isn’t apparent on tape is what kind of carry Haggard gets on his ball and whether he can maintain velocity at longer distances. His velocity should get better as he gets bigger and stronger. Haggard stands at 6’0 and 170 and should easily be able to get up to 200lbs with a good strength and conditioning program. While Tulane doesn’t expect Haggard to play this year, 2021 saw Kai Horton and Christian Daniels forced into action against Cincinnati, so Haggard has to be ready to play at least in an emergency.
Chris Brazzell, WR Midland Legacy HS, TX
Chris Brazzell is the son of a former NFL Wide Receiver who I believe played for Coach Fritz and Coach Conway at Blinn Junior College in the early 1990s. Brazzell plays football and basketball at Midland Legacy High School and to date, he hasn’t been able to avail himself to the kind of offseason strength and conditioning work that he’ll get at Tulane. Brazzell is a high riser who has the ability to go up and get the ball over smaller defensive back and make catches outside of the frame of his body. These are qualities that Tulane receivers have struggled with in recent years. If Brazzell can get into the weight room and get stronger, he could provide Tulane with the big, consistent receiving target they’ve been searching for under Coach Fritz.
Kameron Hamilton, DT Zachary HS, LA
I have to be honest, I had never heard of Kameron Hamilton before a couple of weeks ago when Tulane offered him. Once I turned on the highlights, I was shocked at how well Hamilton moved at his size (6’4 270). Hamilton has the size, length and strength to play both DE and DT. Hamilton, like the other two high school DL that Tulane signed, brings versatility and toughness to Coach Dawson’s Trench Dawgs.
Makhi Hughes, RB Huffman HS, Birmingham, AL
Hughes is an outstanding running back on a bad team. While Huffman went 2-8, Hughes was still able to rush for more than 1,600 yards when opposing teams knew he was going to be getting the ball. He has good size at 5’10 190 and above average speed. Tulane’s running back room is very deep, and it would surprise me if Hughes played more than the 4 game redshirt limit next year. He should be ready to take on carries when Cameron Carroll and YG Booker graduate.
Isaiah Boyd, DL Haverford, PA
Isaiah Boyd comes to Tulane after dominating opponents at The Haverford School in Haverford, PA. The Haverford School is a prominent all-boys private school that has produced numerous notable alumni. However, the competition may not be the easiest to judge. Like Ade Aruna did at LaLumiere in Indiana, Boyd physically dominated his opponents most weeks. There might be a steeper learning curve for Boyd due to the lack of competition, but Boyd has the size, strength and natural physical gifts to be a very good college player. For reference, his size (6’3 265) is very similar to Cam Sample. I don’t know if he has the same incredible wingspan that Sample had, but even without it, Boyd shows potential to be able to play defensive end on run downs and kick inside on passing downs to rush the passer from defensive tackle.
Keanon McNally, OT Kearney HS, Kearney, MO
McNally is enormous at 6’10 285, but he actually looks thin in his uniform. When I first heard we were recruiting a 6’10 tackle that had mostly FCS offers, I was very skeptical. Then I heard that he worked out for the coaches on campus, and I felt better. After I turned on his senior tape, I was convinced that McNally was criminally under-recruited and underrated. For a 6’10 17 year old, he is tremendously coordinated. McNally is a former basketball player and it his footwork shows it. For taller players, you also have to worry about bend and pad level. McNally did a great job on tape of playing with a low pad level. He appears to understand leverage and also plays with a bit of a mean streak. Once McNally gets into the weight room, he could end up being a real steal for us. While it may be hard to picture what his ceiling could be, try to picture former Houston and Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer and former Colorado, Patriots and Giants tackle Nate Solder.
Cadien Robinson, DB Rockwell HS, TX
Cadien Robinson is another under recruited player who probably would’ve had more offers in a non-COVID world. What I like most about Robinson is that he has the length to play bump and run. At 6’1 170, Robinson will have to get bigger and stronger, but he has a great frame, good feet and a swagger about him that you need at the cornerback position. Once he fills out, he should be very difficult to throw over in coverage with his height and long arms.
Sully Burns, OL Plano HS, Plano, TX
The three words that pop into my head when I look at Sully Burns are “big, strong, man.” Burns is another offensive lineman who stands over 6’6” and 300 lbs. Burns has played both right and left tackle in high school, and I think he can also play guard. Looking at him wearing number 65, I thought he looked a little bit like former Tulane lineman Ben Knutson. As Tulane continues to look for the right combination of offensive lineman, Burns may get a shot to show what he can do sooner rather than later due to his physical maturity.
Gerrod “Da General” Henderson, DL Spring HS, Spring, TX
If I had to describe Henderson in one word it would be “active.” Henderson is an Energizer bunny on defense, never quitting on a play. Henderson approaches each play with a plan and rarely gives offensive lineman a target to punch. He shows an advanced understanding of how to use his hands in the pass rush, and he has enough speed to finish. If Henderson was 6’4 instead of 6’1, he would’ve probably had several Power 5 offers. However, good football players are good football players, and Tulane got another guy who could have some position versatility and the ability to get on the field early.
Ashaad Clayton, RB (Colorado)
Clayton, the former Warren Easton product, returns to the 504 after a disappointing two-year run in Boulder where he was underutilized. Clayton dominated high school football in 2019 running around, over and through defenders. He will push for serious, immediate playing time.
Lawrence Keys III, WR (Notre Dame)
Keys is a homerun hitter who could give Tulane the consistent receiving threat that it has been missing the past couple of seasons. Keys has not only good long speed but the quickness and suddenness to create separation that should give Michael Pratt some easier throws.
Patrick Jenkins, DT (TCU)
Worried about losing Jeffery Johnson? Worry no more. Jenkins is a tank who plays with a mean streak. While Johnson was a great space eater, Jenkins has more natural playmaking ability. Johnson should push for a starting spot immediately.
Deajaun McDougle, WR (Maryland)
Dea Dea McDougle was recruited by his former HS QB, Michael Pratt. McDougle and Pratt had a great rapport during their year together at Deerfield Beach. While McDougle didn’t have much opportunity at Maryland, a change of scenery and reunion with his old QB might be exactly what he needs to get his career going. As I said earlier, Tulane is going to have a wide open receiver competition, and McDougle is looking to find his way into that rotation immediately.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR UPDATE
For those who could not listen to Coach Fritz today, he said that he is going to take his time on this hire. He understands the importance of the hire and has already had several current and former OC’s reach out to him about the job. There is no shortage of interest in the job. Coach Fritz operates like a CIA agent in these searches, so don’t expect any leaks. Will Hall’s and Chip Long’s names weren’t leaked until they accepted the job. Expect something similar here.