Toledo's defensive coordinator, Thom Kaumeyer, held that same position for several seasons at San Diego State and had some success, with the Aztec defense achieving some intermittent national rankings in some categories in 2002-2003.
At Tulane, Kaumeyer has charge of a largely veteran unit albeit one that was not consistently effective over the past four seasons.
One of the achilles heels of the Green Wave defense in 2006 was a very inexperienced linebacker corps.
Now three veteran juniors return at linebacker in middle backers Evan Lee and Jordan Ellis, and outside linebacker James Dillard. Last year they were inexperienced sophomore starters and their backups were a group of redshirt and true freshmen. The brightest lights of that group of backups being true freshman Josh Mitzel, Troy Wilson, and Cody Sparks.
Wilson has moved to defensive end and Mitzel has transferred, but Sparks returns after missing the final nine games of the season after breaking an ankle in practice the week after the LSU game.
At 6-foot-4, Sparks is a tall, athletic linebacker who seems to have a great ability to get to the ball. He was impressive in pre-season practice in 2006 and was on the two deep at the beginning of the season. He played in first three games, making five tackles, and was one of eight true freshmen to have played in each of the first three games, leading that group in tackles.
At the end of spring practice he was listed as the starter at sam linbacker.
There may still be enough of a growth spurt left in him so that Cody, who's blessed with 4.6 speed, ends up growing into a tight end or defensive end, but for now he's still a linebacker.
As a senior at Bridge City Sparks recorded 88 tackles, 4 sacks and three interceptions.
During his prep career Cody, a 4.0 student, was athletic enough to have been used at wide receiver in addition to linebacker and defensive end. He earned 12 letters in 4 four sports in high school, starring in baseball where he hit .367 in 2006, and track where he ran the 300 meter hurdles in 39.97 and the 110 meter hurdles in 14.89.
After his senior season he was named the Orange Leader Defensive MVP and the Orange County Defensive MVP. In addition he was named to the Port Arthur News Super Team and all-district 24-3A as a senior after posting season totals of 88 tackles, including 44 solo stops, and three interceptions.
As a junior, Cody was named Orange County Athlete of the Year, and also received all-district and all-county honors. He was his district's Newcomer of the Year after his sophomore season.
He was named the Orange Leader's Male Athlete of the Year in both 2005 and 2006 and also earned all-state and Texas 3A All-Region honors.
In pre-season and his regular season cup of coffee, Sparks showed impressive ability to get to the ball and wrap the ball carrier up. He's among the quickest of the Green Wave linebackers and if he's completely overcome his injury and can play back to that same level of play his abilities are going to make the defense a lot stronger.