Former Tulane defensive back Derrick Strozier signed a rookie free agent deal with the New Orleans Saints on Monday following a solid effort over the weekend during the team's rookie minicamp.
May 19, 2014
NEW ORLEANS - Former Tulane defensive back Derrick Strozier became the latest Green Wave player to ink an NFL rookie free agent deal as the native of Edgewater, Fla., signed with the New Orleans Saints on Monday as announced by Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.
Strozier, who originally signed a try-out deal with the organization following the 2014 Draft, earned an opportunity to go to training camp with the Saints following a successful effort over the weekend at the Saints' rookie minicamp. After playing primarily on defense with the Green Wave, Strozier was signed as a running back and will have an opportunity to carry on his special teams' effort at the professional level.
One of 38 players invited to participate in the rookie minicamp, Strozier was one of four players to earn a spot on the roster after the weekend. He joins wide receiver Steve Hull of Illinois, former Rice linebacker Cheta Ozougwu and offensive lineman Thomas Welch out of Vanderbilt. Strozier and Hull were the only two true rookies to earn contracts as Ozougwu was originally selected by the Houston Texans in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft and spent the last two seasons with the Chicago Bears while Welch was picked in the seventh round in 2010 by the New England Patriots and spent parts of the last three seasons on the active rosters of the Patriots, St. Louis Rams and Buffalo Bills.
During his time with the Green Wave, Strozier played in 39 games with 20 starts. On defense, he posted 101 tackles (66 solo, 35 assists), 5.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, 18 pass break-ups and five interceptions - including two returned for touchdowns. As a special teamer, he returned 28 punts for 268 yards and 13 kickoffs for 258 yards while blocking a pair of kicks and returning a blocked field goal for a score on special teams, and added four rushes for 12 yards and 11 receptions for 60 yards on offense. He finished his career tied for the Tulane record with two interceptions returned for a score and seventh with 186 interception return yardage.
As a senior in 2013, when he helped lead the Green Wave to their first winning season and a bowl appearance for the first time in over a decade, Strozier, played in all 13 games with 11 starts at nickelback. He led the team with 14 pass break-ups and shared the lead with one blocked kick while sitting tied for second on the squad with three interceptions, sixth with 54 tackles (32 solo, 22 assists) and tied for 10th with 4.5 tackles for loss. His 14 pass break-ups rank fourth in Tulane single and was tabbed Conference USA Player of the Week twice.
His first weekly honor came on special teams after he returned a blocked field goal 62 yards for a touchdown while posting seven tackles (5 solo, 2 assists) in a 24-21 win over North Texas on Oct. 5. One week later, Strozier was tabbed Defensive Player of the Week after tallying a season-best eight tackles (5 solo, 3 assists) with one tackle for loss, breaking up two passes and intercepting another which he returned 99 yards for a touchdown vs East Carolina on Oct. 12.
Strozier is the second Tulane player to sign a contract with the Saints during the offseason as Devon Walker - who suffered a career-ending spinal injury which has left him paralyzed from the neck down - inked an honorary contract with the team on Saturday. Other Green Wave players to join NFL teams are wide receiver Ryan Grant, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Washington Redskins back on May 3, along with free agents Chris Davenport (DT/Washington Redskins), Cairo Santos (K/Kansas City Chiefs), Orleans Darkwa (RB/Tennessee Titans), Jordan Sullen (CB/Denver Broncos) and Julius Warmsley (DL/Houston Texans).