NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Two former Tulane Green Wave football players are headed to the pros after night two of the 2023 NFL Draft concluded Friday.
Louisiana native and Tulane running back Tyjae Spears was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 81st pick while linebacker Dorian Williams was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Both are coming off a record season for the Green Wave that ended with two championships, including the program’s first AAC title after a thriller win over Central Florida.
As the announcement was made from Kansas City, Spears was among his family and friends in Tangipaoha Parish on Friday, where he was rated a three-star recruit at Ponchatoula High School. As a senior, he finished the season with 1,800 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns.
“If he stays healthy, he’ll be one of the best players in the history of Tulane University,” Ponchatoula Head Football Coach Hank Tierney later told WGNO Sports in a 2020 interview, after Spears was red-shirted as a freshman and just before a torn ACL left him out of his sophomore season.
Despite being named pre-season all-AAC by Phil Steele, Spears ended his junior year at Tulane with a 2-10 record. However, like the rest of his team, the running back was out for blood his senior year, helping lead the Green Wave to an AAC championship, then again with a Cotton Bowl victory over USC in January.
Spears concluded his college career with AAC Player of the Year honors and a 12-2 record under head coach Willie Fritz. During his time at Tulane, he averaged seven yards per carry and finished the 2022 season with 21 total touchdowns.
This will be Spears’ first time wearing a jersey not from Louisiana. The Titans will kick off the regular NFL season later this year against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Meanwhile, Williams, a South Carolina native, is headed to Buffalo. A three-year starter, Williams earned All-AAC honors during his senior season in finishing with 131 tackles, including 8 1/2 for a loss, a team-high five sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
The 21-year-old finished his career with 17 tackles to be named the Cotton Bowl MVP in a 46-45 win over Southern California. At 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, Williams joins a defense that plays a two-linebacker scheme, and lost starter Tremaine Edmunds in free agency last month.
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