June 6, 2010
Offers still rolling in for tight end
Evan Tatford's outlook on his football future started to change drastically last month with each college coach who showed up at St. Thomas More High School in Lafayette, La., for a firsthand look at his team's spring practice.
Just a few weeks earlier, Tatford had been weighing his lone scholarship offers from Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette.
His options now are plentiful.
Tatford, a 6-foot-5, 230 pound rising senior tight end at St. Thomas More, suddenly holds offers from six Division I schools. Four of them -- Memphis, Miami-Ohio, McNeese State and Southeastern Louisiana -- have entered the picture in the past month.
He admitted Sunday that his head still is spinning a bit as he transitions from the end of a whirlwind spring to the beginning of a summer loaded with campus visits.
"I'm trying to just take in the full process, see how the summer pans out, see what happens -- if I get any more offers -- and then just kind of sit down with my parents and go through all the pros and cons," Tatford said during his drive back from College Station, Texas, where he attended a weekend camp at Texas A&M.
Tatford said he doesn't know exactly what to make of the growing number of schools seeking his services, although he does have a general idea of what he's looking for in a college.
The Green Wave appear to fit at least a few of his criteria.
"I guess it's kind of a mix of things -- education, the ability to play, and then proximity to home and, I guess, just the atmosphere of the coaches and the school," Tatford said. "(Tulane has) one of the top educational programs in the country right now."
Tatford said he also thinks highly of Doug Lichtenberger, Tulane's tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, who is recruiting Tatford for the Green Wave.
"He's a really cool guy, easy to talk to," Tatford said of Lichtenberger. "Throughout this whole recruiting process, he's been great, really."
Still, no early leader has emerged among the schools most actively pursuing Tatford.
"I'm definitely trying to evaluate, seeing what comes in and, if I get any offers over the summer, just taking it all into perspective then," he said.
Tatford, who recently visited Tulane's campus for the team's junior day, has natural connections to at least three of the schools recruiting him. A member of McNeese State's coaching staff previously was at St. Thomas More and coached his older brother, and Louisiana-Lafayette is a short drive from his home.
At Tulane, he has two former high school teammates already on the Green Wave's roster: junior fullback Kasey Stelly and incoming freshman defensive back Cameron DeJean.
"I guess you could kind of say I have ties to Tulane," Tatford said.
Despite catching only six passes as a junior in St. Thomas More's run-heavy offense, Tatford views himself as "more of a hybrid type of tight end" also capable of playing H-back or wide receiver. He expects to earn playing time at all three positions next season after staying at tight end as a junior.
"I've established a good run-blocking game over the past year, but I definitely feel that I have really good hands," Tatford said. "I just didn't really get to prove it, I guess you could say. But I definitely feel like I have very good hands. I concentrate on my catches. The times that we would throw the ball, I'd definitely make the catch, so I feel like I have the capability of being a good pass-catching tight end if it was the right circumstances."
Tatford plans to attend upcoming camps at Baylor and Vanderbilt, along with Tulane's satellite camp at St. Thomas More. He also will spend a day on Mississippi State's campus on his way back from Vanderbilt.
For now, he's not rushing to make up his mind -- or even narrow down his choices.
"It might be until the end of the season, but I have no idea right now," Tatford said. "I guess there's really no timetable (for making a decision)."
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