Tulane staff logs high travel mileage to secure 2017 football signing class

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Junior college quarterback Jonathan Banks, an early enrollee, was a big catch for the Tulane recrutiing class before signing day.

Junior college quarterback Jonathan Banks (#1), an early enrollee, was a big catch for the Tulane recrutiing class before signing day.

NEW ORLEANS – Pricey will be the travel vouchers submitted by the members of the Tulane football coaching staff, relative to their recruiting efforts for 2016-17.

In completing Coach Willie Fritz’s second recruiting class, the Wave’s staff of frequent fliers crisscrossed the country, from the west coast (California) to the east coast (Georgia and Florida) and as far north as Kansas.

These efforts resulted in the signing of 27 new roster players on Wednesday’s national letter-of-intent signing date. This new class represents 11 states and includes 22 high school seniors, three junior-college transfers and a pair of collegiate transfers, one each from Miami and Texas Tech.

“Our staff did a whole lot of traveling,” admitted Fritz. “It helped that we had a break in December but I don’t want a break like that this year. I want to be in a bowl game.”

On the heels of a 4-8 season (1-7 in the American Athletic Conference), the Wave added three new quarterbacks including one from junior college in hopes of upgrading an ineffective passing attack that ranked 126 of 128 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Of Jonathan Banks, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder from Independence (Kan.) Community College, Fritz said, “He has great size and he can run and pass which is what we need in our offense. He gives us balance.”

Of Khalil McClain, from Creekside, Ga., Fritz said, “He is a special athlete who, at 6-4 and 220 pounds, has great speed.”

Of Dane Ledford, a 6-0, 195-pounder from Argyle, Texas, Fritz said, “He was a one-man show at his Class 4A school near Dallas. All three of our QBs fit our system.”

This trio will join holdovers Glen Cuiellette and Johnathan Brantley in the fall.

The Wave added five offensive linemen and four signees each at wide receiver, defensive end, linebacker and defensive back. But Tulane snagged not one defensive tackle and wound up with only two players from New Orleans – offensive tackles Corey Dublin of Jesuit and Cameron Jackel of Shaw – and none from the remainder of the state.

In 2016, Fritz signed 6 of 22 players from Louisiana and two from New Orleans, a stark contrast from head coach Curtis Johnson in 2015, whose final class included 12 of 17 from the state and nine from the greater New Orleans area.

“It (two New Orleans signees) was not from a lack of trying,” said Fritz. “We want more players from Louisiana. The competition here is stiff but we are not going to settle for 2s and 3s. And we are not going up back down against anybody (in recruiting). We are after bona fide Division I players who want to play in a very challenging conference.”

Early enrollees, along with Banks, are running back Stephon Huderson (5-10, 185) of Petal Mississippi, center Dominique Briggs (6-3, 295) of Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College and wide receiver Jabril Clewis (6-2, 190) of Grossmont College in El Cajon, California.

Running back Corey Dauphine (6-0, 195), a transfer from Texas Tech, will sit out the 2017 season and has two years of eligibility remaining. So does 6-3, 300-pound offensive lineman Hunter Knighton, a transfer from Miami, who will be eligible to play this all.

“This has been a long process,” said Fritz of his staff’s efforts. “We needed a big class and we really could have signed 30. The transfers fit our profile and we will keep going after junior college players to help at a position.

“I have been in coaching for 36 years and I want men of character, who can handle the academic rigors at Tulane. This is an easy university to sell.

“I am grateful to my staff for their efforts.

And the airlines are, in turn, grateful to Tulane.

DUBLIN GOES GREEN IN THE END: After Jesuit lineman Corey Dublin’s signing ceremony was canceled Wednesday morning, questions arose whether he would indeed stick to his commitment to Tulane. In the end, he became the last member of the 2017 class to fax his letter on intent to the Green Wave.

Dublin spoke with Ken Trahan Wednesday night:

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Born in Freeport, Texas, Bill moved to New Orleans in 1955. From that point on, Bumgarner has called this city home. Bill graduated from New Orleans Academy in 1967 before heading to Lafayette for college. He is a 1971 graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) with a degree in liberal arts in political science. Bumgarner cut his teeth in journalism as a writer with the school’s newspaper for three years,. Bill was then hired at The States-Item on Dec. 22, 1972 and remained on staff when that publication merged with the Times-Picayune. As primary assignments, Bumgarner covered…

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