You have to go all the way back to the days of Henry Frnka – to a time when Tulane football was feared – to find such a
productive Green Wave recruiting haul.
In producing three straight winning seasons –1948-49-50 – King Henry recruited the likes of Paul Lea and Dan Rogas and Bill Svboda, rugged Texans, who helped make Tulane a
physical team on both sides of the ball.
The final report card on Tulane’s recruiting class of 2002 will not be out for several years, but Frnka would have liked the size and their schoolboy roots.
"We have gotten help at every position," says Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo. "This class will supplement our team in a positive way."
Kelvin Johnson of Homestead, Fla., a 6-1, 235-pound linebacker. He was selected to the all-state team in class 6-A, the highest classification in Florida. When was the last time Tulane reached into Florida and snared a player who was so highly rated?
William Blaylock, 6-2, 295-pound center from Tyler, Tex., John Tyler high school, was selected to the Texas all-state team in class 5-A. When was the last time Tulane recruited such a highly regarded lineman from Texas?
Mark Burgess, a 6-5, 290-pound offensive lineman from Tampa, Fla. (Jesuit) was ranked in the Florida Top 100 by the Orlando Sentinel in spite of being injured for most of the year. But he was all-state as a junior.
Robert Hand, a 6-5, 260-pound tight end from Spring, Tex., Klein Oak high school, can also play defensive end and offensive line.
"We really did a good job of filling the needs of the team and supplementing what we’ve already got," said recruiting
coordinator Giff Smith. "All of the guys did a great job of working hard and working together. That is probably the best thing this staff does is work together.
"It is not one guy who signs players, but it is a combination of three, four, five and nine guys working to sign a player. That
comes with trusting each other and believing each other. That is why this staff does a tremendous job and that is why we have
success out of state."
The home front was not neglected. Nick Cannon, the rocket-armed quarterback from Hahnville considered few others and was an early commitment for the Wave. Derek Rogers, the 6-6, 315 pound offensive lineman from St. Amant, is the kind of beef that has been all too rare in the Green Wave camp.
Receiver Demarcus Davis (6-0, 175) of Shreveport (Fair Park) reminds some Wave watchers of Kerwin Cook. Running back
Jovon Jackson (5-11, 215) of St. Petersburg, Fla. (Gibbs) reminds some of Mewelde Moore. Defensive back Jeremy Foreman (6-3, 170) of Lutcher has the height and speed of another Lutcher Bulldog who played for Tulane – Lionel Washington.
Hey, its signing day! These guys are undefeated and unscored upon!
Most needs were met. The offensive line has a sound foundation for the future. Any Green Wave fan looking past J. P. Losman’s eligibility at Tulane, should be pleased with the addition of quarterbacks Nick Cannon of Hahnville and Billy Don Malone of Paris, Tex.
Billy Don went a long way toward becoming a Tulane favorite. He rejected a late offer from the Tigers! That is big stuff in
Wide receiver, tight end and running back also got help in this class. The secondary has some promising athletes for the
Defensively, linebacker Kelvin Johnson and end Michael Roberts (6-3, 240) of Houston, Tex. (Memorial) are the kind of recruits who will get a long look from the Tulane coaching staff when the team convenes for pre-season practice in August.
Smith, who coaches the defensive line as well as serving as recruiting coordinator, was particularly pleased with the addition of Johnson and Roberts. "We think Johnson is a tremendous player," Smith says. "He is a kid that was extremely highly recruited, but the biggest thing he was looking for was a staff that he trusted and an opportunity to play early. That’s two things he found in Tulane.
"I have been a huge fan of Michael Roberts for two years," Smith added. "I think he is a tremendous player. He had a broken bone in his foot, which cost him half of his senior year. He had the opportunity to go other places, but he saw he had a chance to contribute early at Tulane."
"Taurean Brown is a kid that hasn’t played much football, but is a tremendous athlete," Smith said. "His upside is very high. Michael Purcell is a tough, hard-nosed kid that is going to be special in Conference USA."
Smith, who recruited Mewelde Moore in high school, sees striking similarities between the Wave’s top running back and running back signee Jovon Jackson, another of his recruits.
"I think he is going to be very special here at Tulane," Smith says. "They are so
similar – character-wise and how they ran
the football. In high school he was a step faster than Mewelde was. They are like twins. I am very excited about him."
Who might make an immediate impact in the fall of 2002?
Without watching them in pads, here is a guess:
DE Michael Roberts (6-3, 240) Houston, Tx. (Memorial)
LB Kelvin Johnson (6-2, 240) Homestead, Fl.
TE/HB Tye Graham (6-2, 250) Humble, Tx (Kingwood)
RB Jovon Jackson (5-11, 215) St. Petersburg, Fl. (Gibbs)
WR Bubba Terranova (6-2, 185) Slidell, La.(Salmen)
WR Demarcus Davis (6-0, 175) Shreveport, La. (Fair Park)
The message for most who attended the Greenbacker-sponsored recruiting bash Wednesday at the Wilson Center was simply this: Tulane’s football staff can recruit!
There are more athletes with size and speed and impressive credentials than any class since Scelfo arrived. You have to go back many years to find a coaching staff at Tulane that landed such size and athleticism.
Another football recruiting season is behind us. It is a crazy business.
Rutgers, with an eye on football talent in South Florida, purchased billboards in Miami to promote its football program.
Tulane, hoping to add bulk to its offensive line, sent assistant coach Trooper Taylor to Tyler, Tx. He made Sweet Sue’s Café in Tyler his East Texas headquarters.
Trooper put away several platters of Sweet Sue’s Chicken Fried Steak, widely acclaimed but somewhat less expensive than billboards. While in Tyler, Trooper reeled in two Texas
all-state linemen – John Tyler high school’s William Blaylock, a 6-3, 305-pound center, and Donald Madlock, a 6-4, 305-pound
offensive tackle. They were among the three recruits, which also included WR/RB/DB Tommy Griffin, Trooper got from John Tyler this season. It brought his John Tyler total to five during his four recruiting classes at Tulane.
Let’s hear it for Sweet Sue’s Chicken Fried Steak!