Redshirt-freshman quarterback Tanner Lee was tabbed the Green Wave's starter as the Tulane football team opened week two of preseason practice.
A native of Destrehan, La., and 2013 graduate of nearby Jesuit High School, Lee entered camp atop the depth chart after a solid showing during spring practice. Facing stiff competition from incumbent starter Nick Montana and sophomore Devin Powell, Lee cemented his spot in the starting lineup with a solid showing in Saturday's scrimmage at Tad Gormley Stadium.
"Tanner Lee is our starting quarterback," Johnson said. "He'll start this year and I think he'll have a great season and a great career. Devin Powell played well and so did Nick [Montana] but I think Tanner is our guy. He's got a strong arm, command of our offense, great leadership skills and doesn't make many mistakes.
"Right now, Devin Powell is our No. 2 and Nick is our No. 3. It's still a competition. It'll be an on-going competition, but that's how our depth chart is set. When we get to our first game, that's how it'll be."
Lee, who sat out the 2013 campaign as a true freshman, was a three-year letterman at Jesuit High where he helped guide the Blue Jays to a combined 30-8 overall record, a 9-3 showing in district play and three-consecutive trips to the state playoffs. During his prep career, Lee completed 245-of-415 passes (.590) for 3,984 yards, 39 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and claimed honorable-mention all-state, first-team all-metro and first-team all-district honors as a senior after completing 118-of-218 passes (.541) for 2,364 yards, 25 touchdowns and a pair of interceptions
At the conclusion of the 2012 high school season, he was selected to play in the 2012 Lake Pontchartrain All-Star Classic where he threw for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Lee split time under center as a junior when he threw for 1,591 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven picks on 125-of-193 passing.
While Tulane has had several freshmen signal callers draw starting assignments over the years, Lee projects to become just the second Green Wave rookie in program history to open a season under center as Tommy Hightower started at quarterback as a redshirt-freshman in 1976.
With the question of who will be the team's starting quarterback, the Tulane squad spent a large portion of Monday morning's open practice focusing on special teams with a big part of that focusing on punt protection.
"The quickest way to lose a game is to give up a blocked punt or get a punt returned on you," Johnson said. "We put an emphasis on that today and I thought that went pretty good."
The Green Wave return to the practice field on Tuesday, Aug. 12, with an open-media session starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Saints Indoor Facility. From there, Tulane will hold double sessions again on Wednesday and Friday to go with single practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Tulane will kick off the 2014 season on Thursday, Aug. 28, when the Green Wave travel to Oklahoma to take on fellow American newcomer Tulsa at 7 p.m. on the CBS Sports Newtwork before opening the home portion of the schedule on Saturday, Sept. 6, against Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. in the new, on-campus Yulman Stadium in front of a national audience on ESPNews.
For season ticket information, which features packages starting as low as $200, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at (504) 861-WAVE (9283). The Tulane Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center and is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For additional information, log onto the official website at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
NOTES FOLLOWING MONDAY MORNING'S PRACTICE
Defense Bounces Back: After Saturday's scrimmage, in which the Green Wave offense rolled up 477 yards and averaged 6.4 yards per snap, the Tulane defense dominated the day on Monday. A big reason for that was the return of several veterans to the practice field as projected starters Lorenzo Doss (CB), Tyler Gilbert (DE), Nico Marley (LB), Darion Monroe (SS) and Taurean Nixon (CB), who sat out Saturday's scrimmage at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Player Of The Day: With the Green Wave spending a large portion of the morning focusing on special teams, junior punter Peter Picerelli stood out with several booming punts as well as his ability to handle snaps on PAT and field goal attempts. Despite facing heavy pressure, and even getting bumped on at least two occasions, the native of Warren, R.I, stood tall and constantly forced return men back on the heels with deep kicks. Picerelli also showed proficiency holding on kicking plays, scooping a few off the turf and even making the correct call on a scramble play following an off-target snap.
Play Of The Day: Two days after watching the offense make several big plays during Saturday's scrimmage at Tad Gormley Stadium, sophomore weak-side linebacker Nico Marley helped the defense make up for lost time with a big hit on sophomore running back Lazedrick Thompson. With the team going through down-and-distance drills, Thompson took the handoff and tried to work his way around the right side of the offensive line. Marley, however, beat his block, met Thompson in the backfield and quickly upended the bruising back with a ferocious hit which drew hoots and hollers from his defensive mates.
Thompson To The Endzone: While sophomore running back Lazedrick Thompson was the recipient of a big hit by sophomore linebacker Nico Marley earlier in Monday's practice, Thompson made his presence felt when team went into its red zone drills. Coming off a knee injury which cost him the last five games of the 2013 season, Thompson showed very little effects of the setback on Monday with power runs which resulted in touchdowns on four of five plays.
Doss Picks One Off: Junior cornerback Lorenzo Doss got his hands on a football for the first time during preseason practice with an endzone interception during seven-on-seven drills on Monday. An All-American a year ago, Doss is a member of the 2014 Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Jim Thorpe Award watchlists, as well as earning a spot on the Walter Camp Player of the Year "Players To Watch" listing. For his career, Doss has 12 interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. He enters the 2014 season tied for the Tulane record in touchdown returns, second in interception return yardage (264) and tied for sixth in interceptions.
Quote of the Day: "Don't let it be too big for you. The games are coming, whether you're ready or not." - Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson to his team following a special teams play that went awry.