Defensive Line Still Drawing Concern

If neither Roberts and Purcell are available this season, it will certainly reduce the chances that the Tulane defense can rebound to the level of effectiveness of 2002, when a veteran d'line sparked the defense to a +22 turnover margin and a Hawaii Bowl victory

A few brief observations about players of interest after the first three days of practice.

Two of last year's injured, redshirt senior defensive tackle Bamm Mateen, 6-0 303, and redshirt junior tight end Bobby Hoover, 6-4 255, are participating in drills without any visible handicaps. Of course, observers will be able to tell more when they start hitting earnest.

Junior defensive end Michael Roberts, 6-3 257, is reportedly not moving around very well.

5th year senior Blake Baker, 5-10 236, is working with the first defensive unit.

Senior wide receiver Carl Davis, 5-11 172, looks like the quickest of the Green Wave receiver corps.

Sophomore defensive end Craig Morris, 6-2 252, still looks like he ought to be playing linebacker.

5th year senior outisde linebacker, Wes Heath, 6-0 225, is another player described as a great looking specimen.

Sophomore outside linebacker Ray Benford, 6-0 236, added more than 20 pounds since next season but is described as handling the weight very well.

Freshman running back Zac Viuf, 5-10 205, seems to possess great acceleration. Viuf, who joined the team prior to spring practice, is an intriguing player.

Of the true freshmen, the picture seems like this:
Running back Ade Tuyo, 5-11 199, is described as having the lean machine type of look and moving very well.

Defensive tackle Avery Williams, 6-0 300, looks very short.

Defensive ends Ryan Johnson, 6-5 275, and Michael McCabe, 6-4 250, both have the look of D1 players.

Freshman safety Joe Goosby, 6-0 200, is another fine looking specimen.

Let's take a longer look at three Green Wave players recovering from injuries; junior tight end Jerome Landry, 6-4 260; junior defensive end Michael Roberts, 6-3 257; and redshirt sophomore defensive end Michael Purcell, 6-1 262; have not been cleared to participate in practice. The odds are very high that both Landry and Roberts will be forced to take medical redshirts this season. Landry's injury could conceivably keep him on the shelf in 2005 as well.

Purcell reportedly has had a series of knee injuries dating back to high school and his future is more problematic.

The loss of Landry will probably force the use of true freshman Gabe Ratcliff, 6-2 230, at tight end, even with the move of offensive lineman Robert Hand, 6-6 280, to that position.

Over the past two seasons, Roberts has been perhaps the most consistent of the defensive linemen now in the program. He missed several games last season with the recurrance of a foot injury. If he's not able to return this season it will be a very heavy blow for the Green Wave defense, which spent all of 2003 in a tail spin because of a rash of season and career ending injuries.

To compensate for Roberts' absence, 'Freeway' Johnson - sophomore Alvin Johnson, 6-3 280 - has been moved outside to defensive end. The starting d'line appears for the moment to be Johnson; redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Taurean Brown, 6-5 280; redshirt junior defensive tackle Bamm Mateen, 6-0 300; and sophomore defensive end Billy Harrison, 6-4 240.

Purcell missed the first half of 2003 while recovering from the most recent in a series of knee injuries. His performance after his return was roughly comparable in production to that of Roberts and now graduated Daniel Nevil, who were the original starters at defensive end before both were lost to season ending injuries.

If neither Roberts and Purcell are available this season, it will certainly reduce the chances that the Tulane defense can rebound to the level of effectiveness of 2002, when a veteran d'line sparked the defense to a +22 turnover margin and a Hawaii Bowl victory.

Today's updated official roster includes 8 new walkons, 5 of whom played their high school football in Louisiana. Here's the list:
19 David Skehan DB 6-0 190 Fr. HS Bronx, NY Fordham Prep
22 Louis Thomas DB 5-11 180 So. TR Marrero, LA Shaw/UL Monroe
24 Zachary Moss DB 5-10 195 Fr. HS New Orleans, LA Karr
40 O'Lindsey Brown DB 5-10 181 Fr. HS Baton Rouge, LA University
47 Evan Smith RB/S 5-8 170 Fr. HS Plainview, NY Plainview
48 Jeff Willis LB 5-10 205 Fr. HS Portsmouth, RI Portsmouth Abbey
49 Corey Charles RB 5-7 160 So.-R WO New Orleans, LA Karr
60 Brandon Henry OL 6-4 298 Fr. HS New Orleans, LA St. Augustine

Former Tulane quarterback Billy Don Malone, 6-2 190, who failed in gaining medical clearance to return to the Tulane team for the 2004 season, is reported to have recently been in contact with the football program at the University of Tennessee. Malone received treatment for a vascular condition that was discovered after spring practice of 2003. It does not appear that Malone passed all the physical requirements set by Tennessee and will not be able to enroll there. Apparently, Malone was rejected for a problem not associated with his earlier condition.

Malone is also reported to have contacted the University of Virginia about enrolling there.


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