Tulane won its first bowl game since 2002 to cap the third-year of the Willie Fritz era last fall and the results on the field are resonating on the recruiting trail.
Heading into this season, Fritz and company are sitting on the 247Sports Composite's No. 1 class in the American Athletic Conference, holding 22 commitments headlined by coveted in-state target Angelo Anderson, who looks more like an SEC guy, a nimble-footed lineman ranked as the country's No. 19 strong-side defensive end after helping lead state powerhouse New Orleans (La.) John Curtis to a title last fall. He'll be instant impact for these guys on the next level. The Green Wave have never finished atop the conference recruiting standings.
Home cooking has been good this cycle with seven pledges hailing from The Pelican State, but this staff has taken a national approach snagging a couple commitments from two powerhouse programs in Indiana, an offensive tackle from a state champion in Pennsylvania while hitting Texas and Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida as well, working to continue to push a program forward that has gotten better every year.
"It definitely wasn't an overnight deal," Fritz said during the program's recent media day. "We talk about three things in our program, No. 1 is recruit and the first thing we look at is character to be honest with you. And then you start looking at athletic ability and academic prowess and how they'll fit here on this campus and in the city of New Orleans. The second thing we talk about is retaining guys. You want to have a culture that they feel comfortable in. We can't be everything to everyone as far as playing time and things like that. But if you treat people fairly, they'll run through a wall for you. And then last but not least when you recruit them, and then you retain them, is you've got to develop them as football players. We do that in the weight room, in the meeting room and I feel like I've got a lot of really good coaches that are superior teachers and the best coaches are teachers and vice-versa.
"We've had a lot of continuity in that this is my fourth season and we've got one scholarship guy on the team who was here before I was here. Normally you'd have 20, 25 guys going into your fourth year that were on the team. Some guys that have been redshirted, but we don't have that luxury to redshirt very many guys. It's just been tough sledding with a couple of recruiting classes a few years back, so that's unusual so we're really a young team. But that bodes well for the future. My goal when I came in here was to help make Tulane consistent on the football field, and there have been some great players that have played here at Tulane. They've had some great teams here at Tulane. It's just that we haven't done it consistently year, after year, after year. I talk about these things with our players. One of our goals every year is to go to a bowl game. We accomplish that this year, it'll be the first time since 1979-80 that it's happened back-to-back. You win a bowl game this year, it'll be the first time in the history of our 126-year program that's occurred. So to do it consistently you've got to work hard every day, recruit the right guys, you've got to keep them here and you've got to develop them. I feel like we've done that with our guys."
Fritz aims to do more than go to back to back bowl games and win them. He wants to win the league and this class helps continue to build that. This is one of the best Group of Five offensive line classes in the country. Indianapolis (Ind.) Bishop Chatard's Joseph Solomon is the latest hogmollie to join the fold at the point of attack, a people mover with good feet and a tencacious style of play.
"Just felt like a family down there," Solomon said. "Also, an unbelievable education. I’m real excited about it!"
Solomon joined a couple Louisiana road-graders in Josh Remetich and Rashad Green along with massive offensive tackle Trey Tuggle and Matthew Lombardi from national power Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joseph Prep.
"I really love how everyone there has a championship mentality," Remetich said. "All the coaches are extremely nice, it’s like everyone there is a family."
"I love that the coaches make the program feel more like a family than a business for the players, after talking to players in the program and hearing about their experiences as Tulane football players, I felt as though Tulane would be the right spot for me," Lombardi added.
The front seven was also a point of emphasis in 2020 headlined by smooth, hard-hitting, playmaking linebacker Kendarrius Moore who shows the whole bag on film from covering downfield to changing direction and coming down and making a stick in the flat.Out of Alabama power Saraland, linebacker Adam Chaney has done it all in the front seven and has 17 stops behind the line of scrimmage as a junior and is just as intriguing as Moore. Defensive lineman Noah Taliancich is a quick, powerful and disruptive player in the trenches and the 6-foot-1, 319-pound Brandon Brown and his 27 tackles for loss last fall for Katy (Texas) Morton Ranch should anchor the middle. Ethan Barr is one of the quicker linebackers in the country and two more defensive tackles in Elijah Champaigne (plays on the edge on the prep level) and Dane Middlebrook are stout interior prospects as well.
Two signal-callers are in the fold too. There's a lot of excitement around quarterback Michael Pratt too who should have a big senior season after transferring to Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High and Justin Ibieta is raw but has a lot of tools. Tight end Reggie Brown is a pass catcher with NFL bloodlines. Cornelius Dyson will play middle linebacker as a senior but projects across several spots in the secondary, most likely evolving into a safety.
Tulane has gone from four wins to five wins to seven. There's a lot of optimism heading into 2019 and this 2020 class takes that beyond.