July 28, 2009

Wave lands speedy middle linebacker

The downturn in the stock market paid dividends for Green Wave football.

The increasing value of a Tulane education provided enough impetus for linebacker Ray Oppman to commit to the Wave, becoming the 10th prospect to pledge to the 2010 class.

"Tulane is a great school, with stand-out academics," Oppman said. "And with the economy like it is now, education is increasingly important. I know that, and it really made Tulane stand out."

The offerings on the football field aren't too shabby either.

As a 6-foot-2, 215 pound middle linebacker who relies on speed, Oppman was looking for a school in Conference USA that needed quickness in the heart of its defense. After talking with defensive coordinator Steve Stanard on an unofficial visit, Oppman got the the answer he wanted.

"I've always been told I'm a good runner and I'm faster than a lot of the running backs in high school," Oppman said. "I really like playing against spread offenses and I know Conference USA has a lot of them. Then coach Stanard kind of told me about their system and said I could be used as either a middle or weak side linebacker."

"I think I'm ready to play as a freshman, and the coaches have told me I'll have a chance to earn it, but gave me zero guarantees. I have to go in the summer and prove I deserve the time."

Although he's played in the middle since fifth grade, he's open to transitioning outside if it means more coverage drops, something he considers a strength of his game.

And while offers from UTEP, North Texas, McNeese State and Portland State were intriguing, they weren't as compatible as Tulane.

"I was ready to commit," Oppman said. "I wanted to know my decision before the high school season started and I was so comfortable with Tulane that it became kind of easy. I really liked New Orleans a lot and the coaching staff is great."

While Greg Davis Jr. and the Wave coaches deserve credit, they should head down to the weight room and give junior cornerback Alex Wacha a pat on the pat on the back as well.

A fellow graduate of Clements HS in Sugar Land, TX, Wacha received questioning which covered the full range of his Tulane experience. And Oppman liked what his old - and now future - teammate had to say.

"I talked to him a few weeks ago at the end of my visit and although I'd already talked with the coaches it was really important to hear about what a player has to go through there," Oppman said. "He just told me everything about Tulane and New Orleans, and said it's a great time overall, and that he's really happy to be a football player there.

"It really put my mind at ease to hear such great things from all sides and I'm really excited for my senior season, before heading off to Tulane."

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