There is no dispute that Willie Fritz’s mid-season decision to swap starting quarterbacks last year paid off for the Green Wave. LSU-transfer Justin McMillan guided Tulane to it’s first bowl in win 15 years and appeared to finally be an answer to a question that has tormented this program as of late; “who is the guy?”
McMillan compiled 1,304 yards and 10 touchdowns on 79 completions as a starter in 2018. His completion percentage landed at just above 50%. He led the team in nearly every major statistical category as a passer despite playing only nine games for Tulane but what was perhaps even more impressive was his work on the ground.
He averaged four yards per carry and ended the season with well over 200 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns (third on the team). His dual-threat ability has opened things up in a big way for a Tulane offense that hasn’t known much success in recent years.
As we move into the new campaign, it’s hard to imagine a world in which Fritz doesn’t lean on McMillan again. The kid has certainly proven himself and done so in some big moments for the Wave. But with five QBs listed alongside him on the club’s official roster, it’s necessary that we break this thing down a bit further.
Here’s who is waiting in the wings...
Keon Howard - RS Jr.
Despite sitting out last season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Howard is one of Tulane’s more experienced signal callers at the collegiate level. In 2016, while at Southern Miss, he started two games and was the Golden Eagles’ leading rusher in one of those contests. He ended his freshman campaign with 365 yards and a touchdown.
His 2017 season saw improvements across the board. Howard played in seven games and threw for 1,199 yards and eight touchdowns. As a sophomore he got playing time against big-time SEC opponents like Tennessee and Kentucky.
The Mississippi native is now at the Wave’s disposal and we shouldn’t be surprised if we see him from time to time. He’s just the type of QB Fritz likes; a guy who isn’t shy about carrying and has a nose for the end zone. With Howard’s experience, you’ve got to believe he is the most viable backup on Tulane’s roster.
P.J. Hurst - RS Jr.
Hurst is the only other upperclassman in the Wave’s QB depth chart but has little to show for it on his resume. He didn’t get playing time as a true freshman in 2016 and wouldn’t see his first action until 2017 in two games that Tulane already had won by a wide margin. Last year he again failed to hit the field.
That shouldn’t take away from Hurst’s talent however. As a senior at Palisades Charter High in California, he rushed for over 700 yards and nine scores and led the team to its first Western League title since the 1980s.
Realistically, a lot would have to happen for Hurst to see meaningful time in 2019 with Howard and McMillan sitting firmly above him. He could be a guy we see come in late though if a game is out of reach.
Christian Daniels - RS Fr.
After redshirting last year, Daniels enters this season as one of the Green Wave’s most anticipated young QBs. At 6-2 and 200 lbs, he was tabbed as a three-star recruit out of North Carolina by 247sports.
It was his dual-threat play making that garnered Fritz’s attention. On top of his 2,218 passing yards as senior at Western Alamace High School, Daniels also toted the ball 156 times for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Because of those numbers, he was a recruit that Tulane didn’t think they’d be able to snag. After Daniels attended a UNC camp, he originally committed to Miami (OH) before eventually winding up in New Orleans last fall.
Although we may not see much of him this year, remember his name because he could be a big-time contributer down the road when the upperclassmen are gone.
Josh Holl - RS Fr.
Holl is another up-and-comer for the Wave. He started two seasons at Cypress Christian in Houston and made the most of his time doing so, throwing for 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns in his first year as a starter. His senior year was an immense improvement as he broke nearly every school passing record.
In that year’s Texas 4A state title game Holl shined, throwing for over 400 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. His efforts earned him many accolades including a finalist selection to the Houston Touchdown Club.
The kid knows how to sling it.
He will be another guy to keep on eye as the seasons roll on at Tulane. Don’t expect much game time (if any) for Holl this season but certainly keep an eye out for him in the future.
Josh Coltrin - Fr.
Like his teammate Holl, Coltrin hails from Houston where he played his high school ball at Manvel. He once threw for five touchdowns in a single game and was the state runner-up two years ago. His athleticism stretches far beyond the gridiron though.
He was a jumper on Manvel’s track and field team where he earned all-region honors.
Much like his fellow freshman, Coltrin will have much to prove if he is to earn a significant role down the road with Tulane.
You can watch Coltrin’s senior season highlights below.
As the season draws nearer by the day, the Green Wave offense seems to face less pressing questions than the defense thanks in large part to the stability at quarterback. While the team did bid farewell to Jonathan Banks last year, it’s nice to have a guy like McMillan waiting to lead the squad for one more go-round.
If McMillan can produce like he did last year for a full season’s worth, there’s no telling what Tulane’s ceiling actually is this fall. A bowl game... a once-distant dream... could come with relative ease this campaign as could a run at the conference title.
For all intents and purposes, the Green Wave seem set at quarterback.
Projected Starter: Justin McMillan