Feb. 6, 2008
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Eleven defensive players, eight offensive standouts and seven Louisiana natives highlight the Tulane University football team's rookie class for the 2008 season, second-year head coach Bob Toledo announced Wednesday on National Signing Day.
A total of 19 high school seniors signed National Letters of Intent to suit up for the Green Wave next season - five defensive linemen, three offensive linemen, three linebackers, three defensive backs, two quarterbacks, one running back, one tight end and one fullback. Included in that mix are Louisiana natives Nathan Austin (Lake Charles/Barbe HS), Ian Harson (Iowa/Iowa HS), Alex Lauricella (River Ridge/John Curtis HS), D.J. Ponder (Baton Rouge/Catholic HS), Kasey Stelly (Lafayette/St. Thomas More SH), Kadeem Taylor (Monroe/Carroll HS) and Troy Wainwright (Lake Charles/Barbe HS).
Toledo's second recruiting class also includes several nationally prominent players as quarterback Ryan Griffin (Westlake Village, Calif./Chaminade College Prep) is the No. 22 prep quarterback prospect in the nation according to ESPN.com and center Rich Bell (Menden, Mass./Salisbury School) ranks as the No. 22 prep center in the country and the No. 9 rated prospect in Connecticut according to Rivals.com. Linebacker Darryl Farley (Atlanta, Ga./Grady HS) is rated the No. 53 middle linebacker in the nation by Scout.com and No. 79 inside linebacker by ESPN.com and offensive lineman Harris Howard (Alpharetta, Ga./Blessed Trinity Catholic HS) sits No. 74 among high school offensive linemen in a Scout.com ranking.
"We started this process over a year ago, tried to build relationships with coaches and players, and today is the culmination of a year of hard work," Toledo said. "Today is kind of the coming out party. It's nice to see the fruits of your labor come to fruition and I think we did a good job.
"You never get everyone you want. I've been coaching for 40 years and I've never gotten everybody I wanted, but on the other hand you get some players you don't think you're going to get. We ended up signing players at each position except wide receiver so we have the ability to develop some quality depth."
The 19-member signing class is represented by players from around the region, including four players from Texas, two from Georgia and one each from Alabama and Florida, and from across the nation with three players from California and one player from Massachusetts.
The focus of the class is in the trenches where Toledo and his staff signed three offensive linemen and five on the defensive side of the line. In addition to Howard, the Green Wave added Eric Jones (Hoover, Ala./Spain Park HS) and Rafael Vazquez (Orlando, Fla./Edgewater HS). While highly rated as an offensive lineman, Toledo plans to use Bell on the defensive side of the ball where he also adds the talents of Houston natives and Alief Elsik High teammates Emmanuel Aluko and Chris Asumnu - the brother of Tulane All-American sprinter Gloria Asumnu - Casey Blum (Moorpark, Calif./Moorpark HS) and Taylor.
"If you look at the history of my recruiting, linemen have always been the big emphasis," Toledo said. "They are the hardest guys to get. To get big, strong, fast, athletic type linemen is hard. You just can't turn those kinds of guys down. So we went after a whole bunch of them and we think we got eight really good ones."
One other point of emphasis for the Wave during the 2008 recruiting process was the linebacking corps where Tulane signed David Allen (South Pasadena, Calif./South Pasadena HS), Farley and Sule Osagiede (Houston, Texas/Lamar Consolidated).
In the secondary, Tulane will feature three new defensive backs, including safeties Kristofar Rhymes (Houston, Texas/Thurgood Marshall HS), Lauricella and Harson. Lauricella will be reunited with former prep teammate Andrew Neirman, who started all 12 games at right guard as a true freshman for the Green Wave in 2007.
On offense, Tulane attracted five players to key positions, including two quarterbacks: Ponder from Catholic High and Griffin of Westlake Village, Calif.
The Wave signed a pair of teammates from Lake Charles, La., as Austin and Wainwright played together as the running back and tight end at Barbe High School, respectively. In addition, Tulane added the blocking ability of Stelly out of St. Thomas More High to bolster the fullback position.
Season tickets for the 2008 Tulane football season are now on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Being a season ticket holder allows you to receive priority seating locations and lower prices than individual game ticket purchasers. Adult sideline seats are $180, while adult end zone seats are $90 and youth (under 18) end zone seats are just $72.
Tulane also offers a "Family Four Pack" which provides two (2) adults and two (2) youth tickets in end zone seating plus a special entertainment value coupon for the $240. Any fan who purchases or renews their ticket order by March 21 will be eligible to receive four complimentary tickets to a Tulane baseball game against a Conference USA opponent. The available games are the Marshall series (April 4-6), Southern Miss weekend (April 18-20) and UCF showdown (May 2-4).
For more information on 2008 Tulane football tickets or tickets to any future Green Wave home athletic event, contact the Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE.
2008 Tulane Football Signing Class
|David Allen||LB||6-2||200||Fr.||South Pasadena, Calif./South Pasadena HS|
|Emmanuel Aluko||DL||6-3||280||Fr.||Houston, Texas/Alief Elsik HS|
|Chris Asumnu||DL||6-1||271||Fr.||Houston, Texas/Alief Elsik HS|
|Nathan Austin||RB||6-1||206||Fr.||Lake Charles, La./Barbe HS|
|Rich Bell||DL||6-1||270||Fr.||Menden, Mass./Salisbury School|
|Casey Blum||DL||6-3||245||Fr.||Moorpark, Calif./Moorpark HS|
|Darryl Farley||LB||5-11||228||Fr.||Atlanta, Ga./Grady HS|
|Ryan Griffin||QB||6-4||211||Fr.||Westlake Village, Calif./Chaminade College Prep|
|Ian Harson||DB||5-11||175||Fr.||Iowa, La./Iowa HS|
|Harris Howard||OL||6-4||288||Fr.||Alpharetta, Ga./Blessed Trinity Catholic HS|
|Eric Jones||OL||6-6||290||Fr.||Hoover, Ala./Spain Park HS HS|
|Alex Lauricella||DB||5-10||170||Fr.||River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian HS|
|Sule Osagiede||LB||6-0||190||Fr.||Houston, Texas/Lamar Consolidated HS|
|D.J. Ponder||QB||6-2||185||Fr.||Baton Rouge, La./Catholic HS|
|Kristofar Rhymes||DB||6-0||200||Fr.||Houston, Texas/Thurgood Marshall HS|
|Kasey Stelly||FB||6-1||231||Fr.||Lafayette, La./St. Thomas More HS|
|Kadeem Taylor||DL||6-4||235||Fr.||Monroe, La./Carroll HS|
|Rafael Vazquez||OL||6-5||321||Fr.||Orlando, Fla./Edgewater HS|
|Troy Wainwright||TE||6-3||230||Fr.||Lake Charles, La./Barbe HS|