A whirlwind weekend in New Orleans for Zachary’s Tyler Judson resulted in a more than just a Class 5A state championship.
He also found a place he could call his collegiate home.
Two weeks after parting ways with Ole Miss, Judson – the state’s No. 23 ranked safety and three-star prospect according to 247 Sports – helped the Broncos to a second straight state championship and a day later committed to Tulane during an official visit.
“It was crazy,” Judson said.
Zachary completed a dramatic come-from-behind 27-24 victory over West Monroe on Saturday evening, solidifying the Broncos second straight Class 5A crown and third in five years.
With his official set for Sunday morning, the 6-foot, 193-pound Judson estimated squeezing in four hours of sleep between the euphoria of a state championship and the anticipation of taking a planned two-day official visit to Tulane’s uptown campus.
“I kind of slept, but not until after 5 in the morning,” Judson said. “I was still excited after the game.”
He’s equally enthusiastic about his future at Tulane.
“Why not be an Uptown hero,” he said.
Until Nov. 21, Judson had visions of Oxford, Miss, The Grove and fully understood the meaning of ‘Hotty Toddy’.
Judson spent more than five months committed to Ole Miss where the allure of playing in the Southeastern Conference and the opportunity of early playing time made for what he believed was the perfect marriage.
That relationship began to crumble in early November, he said.
Judson said he received a call from Ole Miss linebackers coach Jon Sumrall telling him head coach Matt Luke was disappointed to discover that Judson had a planned official visit scheduled to Virginia.
“I cancelled that trip,” Judson said. “I didn’t even go.”
Judson did acknowledge taking an unofficial visit to Mississippi State, but didn’t considered the Bulldogs a threat to his Ole Miss commitment.
“He said the head coach felt I wasn’t 100 percent committed so he wasn’t going to sign me in December,” Judson said “I said cool I’ll sign in February. A week later, he gave me a call and thought it was best for me to decommit because they might not have any spots left in February.
“I said, ‘what do you mean you might not have any spots in February, I’m committed to you guys’,” Judson said. “We just might not have any spots, he told me. I told him I was decommitting and looking elsewhere. I learned I should’ve explored my options more instead of rushing things.”
It didn’t take long news of Judson’s split with Ole Miss to grow legs, thanks in part to the role social media played.
Schools such as Tulane, Houston, Mississippi State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Indiana and Washington State all contacted Judson, who acknowledged the Green Wave had a leg up on the rest of the competition.
“Before I committed to Ole Miss, Tulane was my No. 1 school,” he said. “They always hit me up, text or called and checked on me. They were really interested, and no other school did that. I was already comfortable. They made me feel at home when I went to camp.
“It was just the vibe you get from them,” he said. “They did what other college coaches didn’t do. It’s a great academic school and with me school comes first. A degree from Tulane can carry me a long way.”
Even as a commitment to Ole Miss, Judson said it was customary to hear from a member of Tulane’s coach staff ranging from defensive backs coach Chris Hampton, tight ends coach Slade Nagle or secondary coach J.J. McCleskey.
That familiarity went a long way in Judson scheduling his official to Tulane where the Green Wave’s gradual improvement under third-year coach Willie Fritz was another selling point the Green Wave’s staff was able to drive home.
Tulane completed a 7-6 season following Saturday’s 41-24 victory over UL-Lafayette in the Cure Bowl. In his previous two seasons, Fritz went 4-8 and 5-7.
One day into his official visit, Judson became the 15th member of Tulane’s recruiting class. He plans to sign with the Green Wave on Wednesday during the NCAA’s early signing period.
“They’ve been on me and checked on me, asked about my grades, what I was interested in for a major and giving me the stats about what a Tulane degree would mean,” Judson said. “They told me about being right there at home. They said I was No. 1 on their board and they’re my No. 1 team.”