The Secondary

In 2007, the Green Wave secondary surrendered 288 yards per game and intercepted only eight passes, nothing to write home about. Enter new defensive coordinator O'Neil Gilbert and a change in philosophy, emphasizing zone coverage over the man-to-man coverage run in the previous scheme. The new philosophy will place an emphasis on execution over athleticism and should fit the personnel better.

At cornerback, the starters figure to be Josh Lumar (5-10, 179, Sr.) at right corner and sophomore Phillip Davis (5-10, 160) on the left side. Lumar is the most experience player in the secondary, next to David Skehan, with 15 career starts. In 2007, Lumar enjoyed his most productive season with the Green Wave recording 73 tackles (third on the team) including 53 solo stops, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 13 pass breakups, and a forced fumble. Davis showed a lot of promise as a true freshman, starting 4 games while making 32 tackles (28 solo) and two pass breakups.

The top reserves are redshirt junior Charles Harris (6-3, 178), a converted wide receiver, and redshirt freshman Dominique Dade (5-9, 183), a converted high school quarterback from Neville HS. In his first season in the secondary, Harris made two starts and finished the 2007 campaign with 11 tackles, one tackle for loss, and 3 pass breakups. Dade had a solid spring and is currently listed at #2 on the depth chart behind Josh Lumar.

There is additional depth beyond the two-deep. Junior Matt Harding (5-10, 171) had his most productive season in 2007 recording 14 tackles, one pass breakup, and one forced fumble. Alex Wacha (6-0, 182, So.) returns to the corner after an unsuccessful transition to free safety in the spring. As a true freshman in 2006, Wacha made 21 tackles and one tackle for loss with one start and 10 game appearances. Wacha was received a redshirt in 2007 after being injured in the first game of the season. True freshman Alex Lauricella (5-10, 170) from John Curtis arrives after an outstanding senior season in which he had 43 tackles, five interceptions for 113 yards and one touchdown, 17 pass breakups, and two fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns.

At safety, the Green Wave gets a boost with the return of David Skehan. Following spring drills, Skehan topped the depth chart at strongside linebacker, but the senior had surgery for a sports hernia and lost 20 pounds prompting Coach Bob Toledo to move him back to more natural position. Free safety Chinonso Echebelem (6-1, 201, Jr.) had a solid sophomore campaign in 2007, recording 61 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, one interception, one pass breakup, one fumble recovery, and 3 forced fumbles despite starting only 3 games.

At strong safety, junior Cory Sonnier (5-10, 190) emerged atop the depth chart this spring, although Skehan and promising sophomore Devin Holland (6-0, 196) will continue to compete for the starting spot this fall. Sonnier enters his junior season with only 4 career tackles, but had an outstanding spring and led the defense with 10 tackles in the spring game. Holland played in 10 games as a true freshman with one start, recording 24 tackles and 2 pass breakups.

Tulane adds top true freshmen this fall: Kristofar Rhymes (6-0, 200) from Missouri City, Texas, and Ian Harson (5-11, 175) from Iowa, Louisiana. Rhymes was named All-District 23-5A after missing his junior season due to injury. Harson was named Class 3A All-State, All-Southwest Louisiana, and All-District 4-3A following his senior season. Both have a chance to contribute this fall.

Note: As of Sunday The Times-Picayune reported that freshman defensive tackle Emmanuel Aluko was still awaiting clearance from the NCAA. Also it was reported that defensive end Logan Kelley would be tried at linebacker this fall.

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