Entering his third year at the helm of the program, head coach Curtis Johnson previews the 2014 season
Members of the 52-player team to be on hand for 2013 home finale on Saturday against UTEP
Green Wave continue to make progress; cornerbacks sport new look during practice session
Senior quarterback throws for 466 yards and five scores ; Grant, Rush both post 100-yard receiving games
Photos By Parker Waters
Former Green Wave standout and longtime NFL player and coach Lionel Washington returned to his alma mater as a co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach for Tulane in 2012 and will begin his fourth season on the staff in 2015.
A native of nearby Lutcher, Washington spent 27 years in the NFL as a player or coach, all on the defensive side of the football. He played 15 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back and was a secondary coach for 12 years following retirement. He was inducted into both the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
In three seasons of leading the Green Wave defense, two Tulane defenders have been selected in the NFL Draft- Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon in 2015- while three other players signed as free agents with NFL teams, including Derrick Strozier, Jordan Sullen and Julius Warmsley.
On the field, Washington’s defensive units have forced 87 turnovers (51 interceptions/26 fumble recoveries) in 37 games and annually ranks among the nation’s stingiest defense’s.
Tulane’s 2014 unit forced 28 turnovers (17 interceptions/11 fumble recoveries) and ranked among the nation’s top defensive units in red zone defense (second), interceptions (13th), tackles for loss (19th), turnovers gained (21st) and fumble recoveries (38th).
Redshirt-freshman Parry Nickerson led the team and the nation’s freshmen with six interceptions and became the third defensive back under Washington’s tutelage to earn All-America honors with his selection as a First-Team Freshman All-American.
The Tulane defense had an outstanding 2013 campaign under Washington, as the team was second in the nation in turnovers forced with 35 (16 fumble recoveries and 19 interceptions). The 19 interceptions ranked as sixth in the nation, while the 16 fumble recoveries were good for fourth in the NCAA.
Additionally, the defensive unit allowed just 352.1 yards per game, ranking 22nd overall in the nation in total defense. The defense totalled 2.92 sacks per game, good for 13 in the nation, while the red zone defense was ranked 11th in the NCAA.
Individually, Doss had a breakout year under Washington, as he earned second team All-America honors from Sports Illustrated and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The sophomore ranked fourth in the nation in interceptions per game with 0.5, as he totalled seven on the year. Doss earned first team All C-USA honors alongside his defensive teammates Julius Warmsley, who ranked 14th in the NCAA in tackles for loss per game (1.4).
Freshman linebacker Nico Marley picked up some hardware of his own, as he earned Co-Freshman of the Year honors from the league after recording 67 tackles (37 solo) with 10.0 tackles for loss.
In his first season on the Tulane staff, the Green Wave logged 15 interceptions, which tied for the ninth-best single season effort in school history, and also recovered nine fumbles for a total of 24 forced turnovers. Individually, freshman Darion Monroe earned honorable mention Freshman All-America honors and joined fellow classmate Doss, on the Conference USA All-Freshman team.
Freshman cornerback Jordan Batiste and Doss joined senior Austen Jacks and Warmsley as honorable mention All C-USA selections. Doss set a school record for interceptions by a freshman with five picks, which placed him second among C-USA defenders and 13th nationally.
Washington, 54, spent 10 seasons with the Green Bay Packers as a nicklebacks/cornerbacks coach from 1999 to 2008. He worked two years on the Oakland Raiders staff in 2009 and 2010 and was the defensive backs coach on Marty Schottenheimer’s staff of the United Football League’s Virginia Destroyers in 2011.
As an NFL coach, he tutored several of the NFL’s best defenders, including Packer cornerbacks Al Harris and former Raider Charles Woodson, who earned Pro Bowls berths under Washington’s tutelage. In 2005, Washington’s defensive backs helped Green Bay lead the league in fewest passing yards allowed per game (167.5) as well as fewest passing first downs (143).
During his tenure with the Raiders, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha earned a Pro Bowl spot, safety Tyvon Branch broke the 100-tackle mark (124, which led all NFL defensive backs) and cornerback Chris Johnson led the team in passes defended (18) in 2009.
Washington’s 15 seasons in the NFL is one of the longest playing careers for a defensive back in pro football history. He played in 205 NFL games with 165 starts and recorded 37 interceptions, returning four for touchdowns. In his career, Washington intercepted at least one pass in 13 of his 15 pro seasons, with at least three in five different years, including a career-high eight as a rookie in 1983.
After playing four years with the Cardinals (1983-86), Washington was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1987 and played for the Raiders through 1994. He spent two years (1995-96) with the Broncos before returning to the Raiders in 1997 for one final season.
A four-year letterwinner for the Wave from 1979-82, Washington helped Tulane to 26 wins and appearances in the Liberty Bowl (1979) and Hall of Fame Bowl (1980) during his career. He served as team captain during his senior season of 1982 and was a fourth round choice (103rd overall) in the 1983 NFL Draft by the St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals.
Washington and his wife Karen have two daughters: Lakaia (36) and Jordan (13) and one son: Deron (29), a professional basketball player who was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons following a stellar college career at Virginia Tech.