Ever since Willie Fritz became the head coach at Tulane four seasons ago, perhaps the most underrated position on the team has been the that of the tight ends. That’s not to say the Green Wave hasn’t had some talented ones come through in recent years; just look at Charles Jones who was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars last summer. Tulane fans may remember that Jones was the one who hauled in that heart-stopping two-point conversion in the season finale against Navy in 2018 that sent the Wave to that season’s Cure Bowl. Kendall Ardoin, who played in 22 games for Tulane, had 195 receiving yards and three touchdown passes in his career. Ardoin, too, was a solid piece on the offense for several seasons.
The reason Tulane tight ends’ stats don’t pop is quite simple; the Green Wave are a run-first group and when passing plays are called, they are usually designed for the team’s speedy receivers. In no way, however, are we saying that these guys aren’t vital to the club’s overall success. In fact they might be one of the biggest X factors a team like Tulane has.
Tyrick James, this year’s expected starter, weighs in at 245 lbs and stands 6-2. That sort of body frame gives him the ability to land essential blocks that allow the Wave’s round table of running backs to find holes at the line. If Tulane’s backs can’t get going then the offense (and the team) finds itself in hot water.
James, though, brings more to the table than just his blocking abilities. In his two seasons with the Wave, he has caught 23 passes for 332 yards and a score. It seems as though his production comes in bunches all at once. In 2019’s opener against FIU, James had 60 yards and a touchdown on just four targets. Later in the season at SMU he reeled in a career-best five receptions for 62 yards. It may not be often that OC Will Hall draws up plays for the tight end, but when he does it comes in a flurry and James has been up to the task.
Behind him is redshirt junior Will Wallace, who actually is bigger than James. Coming in at 6-4, 250 lbs, he is a force to be reckoned with on the line. After seeing no game time his freshman year, Wallace has appeared in 24 of Tulane’s games since (starting 13) and has caught seven passes for 67 yards. We anticipate that he will see an increased amount of action in 2020. That may not necessarily translate into improved statistics though. Leave that up to how Fritz and Hall want to use their big guys this season.
Another guy to keep an eye on this fall will be sophomore Connor Prouet. Although he has yet to land on the stat sheet, he is a talent with tremendous upside. Prouet, a home grown prospect, was awarded all state honors as a senior and helped Jesuit High School to a Louisiana state championship in 2014. He currently holds the school’s record with six touchdowns in a single game. To date he has appeared in just one game for Tulane.
The other tight ends currently on the Wave’s roster are Keshon Williams, Keitha Jones Jr., Conner Richardson and Christian Daniels. As a true freshman a year ago, Williams appeared in just one game for the Wave while Jones is looking to make the transition from linebacker to tight end. Daniels too will be looking to switch positions as he was formerly a QB until this offseason. Richardson has yet to see any playing time.
Our Depth Chart Prediction:
TE 1 - Tyrick James
TE 2 - Will Wallace
TE 3 - Connor Prouet
Reserves - Keshon Williams, Conner Richardson, Keitha Jones Jr., Christian Daniels