Tulane will head into the 2012 season without one of its budding young defenders.
Sophomore defensive lineman Michael Pierce Jr. has been declared academically ineligible, Green Wave head football coach Curtis Johnson announced at Tulane Football Media Day at the Wilson Center on Wednesday.
"We hope to have him back. As you know, our policy here is academics first. This is an academic institution…an institution of higher learning. This is just unfortunate. He’s not eligible and we’ve got a motto, ‘next man up,’” Johnson explained at his press conference.
The loss is a definite blow to the Tulane defense. Pierce was listed as a starter on the Green Wave depth chart following the end of spring practice.
Pierce (6-0, 275) played in all 13 games as a true freshman and earned Conference USA All-Freshman Team honors after finishing tied for ninth on the team in pass break-ups (2) while posting 15 tackles (9 solo, 6 assists) and a half tackle for loss.
The ex-high school linebacker was expected to be a key contributor who was moved around during spring practice to different positions in order to maximize his abilities.
Pierce helped Daphne High to a Class 6A championship in Alabama as a senior. His father Michael Sr. played football at Tulane from 1987-89 and served as team captain as a senior.
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