Getting Defensive

One of the primary concerns of Coach Bob Toledo this spring was to find replacements for Avery Williams and Frank Morton at defensive tackle. The Green Wave have just three returning players with a combined zero career starts. The interior of the defensive line has to be the biggest area of concern on that side of the ball. Fortunately, Tulane returns both starting defensive ends.

As expected, senior Julian Shives-Sams (6-3, 291) is listed as the starter at the nose entering fall camp. Shives-Sams did not start a game last season, but appeared in 11 contests, recording 9 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. He is by far the most experienced defensive tackle on the roster and if he can rise to the occasion this season he would give the Green Wave defense a huge boost.

Redshirt sophomore Tony Bryant (6-3, 261) is still growing into his position after moving inside last season from defensive end. Bryant played in 7 games last season, recording 2 tackles. He had a solid spring and has the edge over true sophomore Justin Adams (5-11, 259) for the starting job at the 3-technique.

Adams and redshirt freshman Cedric Wilson (6-2, 265) comprise the second tier of defensive tackles. Adams, listed behind Shives-Sams at the nose, played in 11 games as a true freshman and is the top returning tackler at his position after recording 14 stops and 0.5 sacks last fall. Wilson had a nice spring and has been publicly praised for his work in the weight room this offseason. As a senior, Wilson had 70 tackles and 7 sacks from his defensive end position at Clements HS in Sugar Land, Texas.

Tulane welcomes three incoming freshman this fall, each has an excellent shot to crack the rotation at defensive tackle. Emmanuel Aluko (6-3, 280) projects as a nose tackle. Alief Elsik coach Bill Barron told TI that he and teammate Chris Asumno (6-1, 271) are both very strong and fast kids coming out of high school. Aluko had an outstanding senior year recording 86 tackles, 6 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. Asumno, the younger brother of Tulane track All-American Gloria Asumno, seems better suited to play the 3-technique. As a senior, Asumno put up gaudy numbers, recording 84 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries, 6 forced fumbles, and blocked a field goal attempt. The third incoming freshman is Rich Bell (6-1, 270) from Mendon, Massachusetts. Bell was a standout at the Scout Combine recording a 4.86-40, a 4.23 short shuttle, and a 27" vertical jump. He also reportedly benches 375 pounds. Bell could play either interior position.

Left defensive end Reggie Scott (6-4, 270) returns for his senior season after recording 27 tackles (18 solo), 9 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and 3 forced fumbles. Scott was named Honorable Mention All-CUSA last season and was dominant this spring. Junior Adam Kwentua (6-3, 257) returns to man the right defensive end position. Last season, Kwentua recorded 20 tackles (16 solo), 5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.

Top reserves figure to be juniors Logan Kelley (6-2, 237) and Troy Wilson (6-2, 237). Kelley has appeared in 22 games over the last two seasons and in 2007 recorded 17 tackles (12 solo), 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble. Wilson suffered a sprained knee this spring but returned to force the only interception in the spring game, deflecting a Kevin Moore pass into the waiting arms of weakside linebacker Travis Burks. Wilson has appeared in 22 games during his career including one start. He has recorded 20 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.

Converted linebacker Cody Sparks (6-4, 232, R-So.) has appeared in 14 games including 4 career starts. Sparks is expected to make a serious push for playing time this fall. Redshirt freshmen Brooks Cunningham (6-2, 236) and Josh Smith (6-2, 240) will battle true freshman Casey Blum (6-3, 245) for their place on the depth chart. Cunningham, from Duluth, Georgia, had 101 tackles, 37 tackles for loss, and a school record 18 sacks as a senior at Norcross HS. Blum recorded 78 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks as a senior at Moorpark HS in Moorpark, California.

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