Tulane nose tackle Eric Hicks not taking a back seat after breakout 2022 season

Tulane linebacker Darius Hodges, left, and defensive lineman Eric Hicks pressure East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers on Oct. 8, 2022, at Yulman Stadium. Eric Hicks started all but one of Tulane’s 14 games in 2022 at nose tackle after All-American Athletic Conference candidate Adonis Friloux tore an ACL less than a week before the opener.

Friloux is back, but Hicks is not fading into the background after proving quite effective during his fill-in season. He has worked with the first unit in the first two weeks of camp while Friloux gets second-team reps for the moment. “(Hicks is) a big, strong guy,” coach Willie Fritz said.

“He does an excellent job staying at the point of attack and is really dependable. He rarely makes a mistake. Being assignment-sound is something that coaches overlook sometimes.

It’s so important. If a guy’s a great athlete but screws up every fourth play, he really doesn’t mean anything to you. ” Hicks, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound fifth-year player from Savannah, Georgia, was an integral part of Tulane’s solid run defense despite making only one tackle for loss.

He battled two blockers on almost every snap — a requirement for anyone playing the nose — and held his own. Having started five times as a redshirt freshman in 2020 before spending all of 2021 as a reserve, he knew he could do the job. “I had to step up with Adonis going down, but it was really nothing to me,” Hicks said.

“I’ve always been comfortable at the nose position. I’m pretty good at taking on combo blocks. The key is just knowing how to distribute your body and not get pushed back.

I’m not worried if I’m starting or not. I’m just trying to make myself better as a player and a teammate and contribute to the team as much as I can. ” Meanwhile, Friloux has not been hampered by his knee in practice, Fritz said.

“He’s full,” Fritz said. “He’s good to go. ” Aussie, Aussie Tulane, which is set at punter with the return of senior Casey Glover, could be on solid ground at the position for the future as well.

The newest scholarship addition to the roster is Will Karroll, a 6-4, 200-pound freshman punter from Sydney, Australia. Karroll arrived thanks to the connections of Wave special teams analyst Mike Krysl. “We got on him, and it’s difficult because you don’t get to see him in person (in recruiting), but the film looked good and coach Krysl’s relationship with the guy in charge of the (Australian) academy was really solid,” Fritz said.

“He’s come over and punted really well. ” Fritz has a good history with Aussie punters. When he coached at Sam Houston State, Melbourne native Matt Foster was second-team All-Southland Conference in 2011 and first team in 2012 before graduating.

His punter in his final year, Lachlan Edwards of Hastings, Victoria, enjoyed a five-year NFL career after being drafted by the New York Jets in the seventh round in 2016. Karroll joins Glover, kicker Valentino Ambrosio and long snapper Ethan Hudak as specialists on scholarship. Tulane also had four on scholarship last season, but backup kicker Kriston Esnard transferred to Central Florida this summer.

First scrimmage Fritz said Saturday morning’s scrimmage — the first of the preseason — will likey feature token appearances by the starters and plenty of work for backups trying to prove themselves. He pointed specifically to fifth-year center Sincere Haynesworth, who has played more than 3,000 snaps, as someone who did not need the reps. “Some (starters) will play a little bit because I do think they need to get the game experience, especially probably the defensive guys,” Fritz said.

“But there’s a bunch of guys who are going to play a lot because we want to see if they are going to be a travel (roster) guy. I’ve seen Sincere make plays in games. I haven’t seen some of the other guys do it yet.

” Lagniappe Tulane practiced Thursday morning in the Caesars Superdome for the second time this week, avoiding the record-setting heat, and Fritz said the workout was crisp. The Wave will be off Friday. … Cornerback Jarius Monroe is one of 35 players on the watch list for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to college football’s top defensive back.


GUERRY SMITH | 5-7 minutes
Filed 08.12.2023

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