PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Three Tulane football standouts earned 2016 all-conference honors from the American Athletic Conference with a pair of seniors, linebacker Nico Marley and defensive tackle Tanzel Smart earning first-team recognition for a second straight year, and junior cornerback Parry Nickerson being selected to the second team.
The three garnered all-conference accolades by a vote of the conference’s head coaches.
Marley capped off his Green Wave career by becoming the school’s all-time tackles for loss leader with 50.5, surpassing Kenan Blackmon’s 50.0 tackles for loss from 1999-2002. He recorded 14.0 tackles for loss this season and led the team in total tackles with 88. The Weston, Fla., native was in on 3.0 sacks, grabbed an interception, forced three fumbles and recovered two fumbles to go along with a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Marley started in 48 of his 49 career games and closed his time in the Olive and Blue with 37 consecutive starts.
Marley was named Co-Defensive Player of the Week by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association on Sept. 26 for 11-tackle effort with 1.0 sacks, 3.0 tackles for loss and one forced fumble in the win over UL Lafayette.
Smart was Tulane’s stalwart upfront and anchored a Green Wave defensive unit that finished the regular season ranked third in The American in total defense at 364.5 yards per game. He ranked fourth in the conference in tackles for loss with 18.5 (1.54 per game) and eighth in sacks at 5.5 (0.46 per game). Smart also had two quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery to his credit. He rarely came off the field on defense and contributed on special teams as well. In the UL Lafayette game, Smart played 105 snaps on defense and special teams in the four-overtime thriller. The Baton Rouge, La., native played in 48 career games and closed his time with the Wave with 36 consecutive starts.
Smart is set represent Tulane one more time, playing in the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl on Jan. 28 at Ladd-Peebles Memorial Stadium in Mobile, Ala. He was also extended an invitation to play in the 2017 East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 21 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Nickerson continued his stellar play in the defensive backfield, standing among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision leaders in total passes defended and interception return yardage for most of the season. Nickerson concluded the regular season tied for 26th in the nation and second in The American in passes defended with 13 (nine passes defended and four interceptions). He tallied 171 return yards over his four interceptions, which was the fourth-highest total in the FBS during the regular season. The Terrytown, La., native also recorded 29 tackles, recovered two fumbles and forced one fumble.
Nickerson was named HERO Sports’ FBS Defensive HERO of the Week on Sept. 14 for his 96-yard interception return for a touchdown in the win over Southern.