Commitment No. 1: 2021
Tulane received its first commitment for the 2021 class on Monday from Ashton (Va.) Stone Bridge quarterback Billy Wiles led his Class 5A team to the 2019 state championship game in his first year as a starter, and although his only other offer from an FBS school was UMass, he visited Penn State and Vanderbilt.
Wiles talked about his reasons for choosing Tulane and his recruiting experience.
What were the major reasons you chose Tulane?
“I really connected with the campus. I loved the school, loved the city and I loved the staff and where the program is going. I think it’s a great fit for me.”
When you visited in early March, what was that like?
“That was my first time in New Orleans. I visited Tulane, walked around the campus a little bit, saw the football facilities, watched a practice and felt like it was a really good fit for me. And then I went into New Orleans, saw the city, saw some street performers and stuff like that. It was a really cool experience. I loved it.”
Since Will Hall became offensive coordinator, Tulane has been recruiting more so-called pro-style quarterbacks. Is that an accurate description of you?
“I’m definitely more on the pro-style side. I’m definitely a passer before I run, but when I need to run, I can. Coach Hall is just awesome. He’s a very personable coach and he’s a football genius, a quarterback genius.”
Most of the schools that offered you were not FBS, but you took visits to Penn State and Vanderbilt. What was the recruiting picture like?
“The only other FBS school that offered me was UMass, but then I had a bunch of the Ivies. I had Harvard, Yale, Penn. That’s pretty high-level football, and the rest were Patriot League and stuff like that.”
When did Tulane first recruit you?
"I believe it was in February. Wesley Fritz, the son of coach Fritz, sent me a DM and he said I love your film, we’re bringing it to coach Hall’s office right now. The ball got started rolling from there.”
You reached the state championship game in your first year as a starter. What was that experience like?
“It was a great experience. I got to play with all my friends, which was awesome. We have a great connection, and coach (Mickey) Thompson did a really good job. My sophomore year we had a really good quarterback who was a senior, but coach Thompson did a really good job making sure I got some experience. He threw me in in random drives in close game to make sure I was good for next year. I got to play in the state championship, which was an awesome experience. Unfortunately we lost, but it was definitely a learning experience and we’ll be back.”
You rallied from a 28-0 deficit to cut it to 28-21, and then your opponent held the ball for almost the entire fourth quarter and ran out the clock. What was that game like for you?
“We usually don’t play anyone with that kind of speed up in north Virginia, so we got down there (against Maury on the campus of Hampton University) and got kind of shocked and they ran all over us. The next thing we know, we’re down 28-0 after four possessions. We talked and were like, all right, let’s get this thing going. We started throwing the ball around and running well. The backfield made a bunch of big-time plays and the O-line started playing really well and we just got back into the game. Unfortunately their offense did a really good job in the fourth quarter just holding on to the ball.”
How tough was that fourth quarter?
“It was definitely crushing because we had all the momentum, but what happened, happened, and we’ve got to grow from it and get back there soon.”
What did you do best as a junior?
“I feel like my knowledge of the game really sets me apart and I can really make any throw. I can throw from sideline to sideline on the run, in the pocket, anything like that.”
What area do you need to improve the most as a senior?
“I definitely want to get a little more explosive with my feet and run for a couple long touchdowns.”
Do you have the talent to make another run at the state championship (Stone Bridge has been to the state championship game nine times since 2005 but only won it once)?
“Yes sir. Last year one of our best players, Tai Felton, he tore his ACL in game five, so we didn’t have him for the state championship. He’s committed to Baylor and he’ll be back, so I’m definitely excited about that.”
Did you grow up in Virginia?
“I did. I’ve been in northern Virginia my whole life.”
How much were Penn State and Vanderbilt recruiting you? You visited both schools.
“Vanderbilt was kind of. They weren’t very heavy. Penn State was on the heavier side until coach (offensive coordinator Ricky) Rahne went to ODU (Old Dominion) as head coach.”
Are you planning on taking other visits, or are you firmly committed to Tulane?
“I’m set on Tulane. I don’t plan on taking any other visits.”