Tulane has narrowed its "generation gap" to the point where the Green Wave is on the verge of closing it completely, Coach Chris Scelfo said after announcing his fifth recruiting class on National Signing Day on Wednesday.
First the math: Tulane signed 21 players, 12 on defense, and 12 from Louisiana.
"We're almost to the point where we will be able to fill (generation gaps) if we continue on the right path," Scelfo told Oliveandblue.com late
Wednesday afternoon. "On offense this year we were able to look down the road. Defensively, we're not quite there yet. But overall I think
we're a class away from being able to accomplish that."
Scelfo said the Green Wave experienced a "generation gap" on the offensive line last season after four seniors graduated. The same will be true on the defensive line next year
as Tulane has lost its top five players there.
Tulane signed six defensive linemen and three defensive backs. The Green Wave started nine seniors on defense last season and junior
cornerback Lynaris Elpheage, a first-team
All-Conference USA player, announced last month that he was making himself eligible for the NFL draft.
"It was big for us to be able to address those needs," Scelfo said. "Obviously with the numbers at those positions some of those guys have to
come in and play. Which ones they'll be, I don't know, the ones that can make the jump the best, that come in in shape, that mentally grasp
"There will be great opportunities for them to
step in. I think that defensive line was one area that we had to address due to graduation that we were able to with guys that I think can come in
On offense Tulane was able to concentrate more
on the future and signing potential successors
to running back Mewelde Moore, the school's career rushing leader, quarterback J.P. Losman and wide receivers Roydell Williams and Chris Bush.
The Green Wave signed two running backs -- Ray Boudreaux of Abbeville, La., and Jordy Johnson
of Baton Rouge. Ideally, in a perfect world, you would like to be able to take these 21 kids and say, ‘OK, all of you are going to redshirt, you're going to be here five years,' but
that's not going to happen and one of these two may have to play."
Tulane signed one quarterback, Richard Irvin of Santa Monica, Calif., who has graduated from high school.
"Starting out we really didn't envision signing a quarterback, but Richard came along and what made him even more attractive was he could come in here in January," Scelfo said. "He is a very mature kid; he knows what he wants; he was the MVP of the California-Florida All-Star Game, which a lot of great players played in. He's got a moxie about him; he is someone who came by surprise and when we had a chance to recruit
him, we took advantage of it."
The Green Wave signed two local receivers -- Fred Smith of Destrehan and Kenneth Guidroz of Port Sulphur.
"I think Freddy is one of the most exciting players in the state; every time you look at a tape of him, he's doing something with the ball,
whether it's at receiver or return game, there's a lot of things we can do with him," Scelfo said. "Guidroz is a bigger receiver; we felt
like we needed to supplement Roydell and Bush with a 6-1 look. That always makes it difficult on defenses to cover those guys.
"I think K.P. (Guidroz) has a chance, it's a big
jump from single A ball to Division I ball, but he's going to play the same position here that he played there. It's about running routes, getting open and catching the football."
Tulane hopes it found the successor to place-kicker Seth Marler in Barrett Pepper.
"That is a huge thing. Seth did both [punting and kicking for us and did both very well," Scelfo said. "I am hoping Barrett is the answer, because opening game, if we lose the toss, he's kicking off. If he's not, we're in trouble. He had a great high school career, his numbers say that,
he kicks the ball off to the end zone.
"He is a very mature kid; I do not think being in the spotlight right away is going to affect him. I think he's going to work hard this summer; that is a position where the opportunity is not only there, he IS going to be the guy."
The Green Wave also has to replace Elpheage and Jeff Sanchez as kick returners. The search for a successor will begin in-house Thursday when
spring practice begins, and resume in fall camp with the recruits.
"We're going to look at guys on our present team this spring; we're going to put a heavy emphasis on that," Scelfo said. "I think Fred Smith
is going to be a candidate for it, Izzy Route (Israel Route) is going to be a candidate for it.
Whoever can catch a ball and make people miss. Those two guys did it well in high school."
Scelfo said the defining characteristic of this class is speed, even among the bigger players.
"I think they can run from top to bottom, and that's what this game is," he said. "Even the big guys on the defensive side can run and that's
what we need. We addressed some size; we got some speed.
"I think it is one of the faster classes that has been around here. I mean that starting with the defensive lineman. I think they can all run.
The guys that we were bringing in, that was the number one criteria we needed, was to upgrade
our speed-level on our football team and I
think we have done that."
Scelfo said the team's victory over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, not to mention the 8-5 record last season, helped get recruits' attention.
"It did from the standpoint that it gave us something to talk about the first five minutes we were there (visiting recruits)," Scelfo said,
"because just about all of them watched it (the Bowl). I think it gave our program credibility nationwide and opened some doors for us maybe
that weren't open before.
"It gave us publicity, not only from a football program, but from a University standpoint, because of the things discussed during the
game, such as graduation rates and what we are doing with our players after we get them here."
Scelfo hopes this year's class begins developing as quickly as last year's class did.
"Last year's class I thought was a very good class after the season began; last February I felt good about it; I felt even better about it in December," he said. "Hopefully we can feel the same way about this class."
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