The wonderful 46-45 The comeback win over the University of Southern California in the Cotton Bowl Classic was one for the ages. Tulane’s Star Player, Dorian Williams and Tyjae Spearsput on the performances of his life on the largest possible stage.
So why was the game decided by a freshman tight end that most fans hadn’t heard of before this game? Alex Bauman hadn’t caught the eye of anyone who would make the difference in this New Year’s Six match, but the team turned to him on the Green Wave’s final drive for the game-winning touchdown with just nine seconds left in the game. Quarterback Michael Pratt aimed at him four times on the final drive and completed a critical hit 24 yard reception on the fourth down and the decisive 6-yard touchdown.
Bauman is a true freshman tight end hailing from Red Bank, New Jersey. He was a strong one two-way player In high school, he played both tight end and defensive end for the Red Bank Catholic Caseys. During his senior year, he solidified and rallied as one of the most dominant all-around high school players in the state 432 reception yards and six touchdowns on offense and 87 tackles and nine sacks on defense.
Bauman played a pivotal role in RBC’s conquest of the Non-Public B 2021 state championship his senior year and helped keep his opponent down to just 8 points. His star performances at both ends of the field earned him that Most Valuable Player in the Shore Conference Award, crowning an outstanding high school career.
He established himself as a consensus three-star recruit and top 30 player from New Jersey. Bauman received offers playing for several D-1 schools, including programs like Rutgers, Wake Forest, and Coastal Carolina. He even considered participating Notre-Dame, where his older brother plays for the Fighting Irish Tight End. Bauman’s decision ultimately came down to where he would earn early game time and where he would get an opportunity to play tight end at the next level.
Head coach Willie Fritz became interested in Bauman early in the recruiting process, intrigued by the chance of expanding Tulane’s tight end space with his size. He actively participated in discussions with Bauman’s coaches and RBC visited the week before National Signing Day. After Bauman officially committed to the Green Wave, commented Fritz that “he has a great pedigree and is a tremendous asset to this team.”
Fast forward through the 2022 season, and Bauman doesn’t see much game time. Outside of a solid performance against southern Mississippi where he counted four receptions and 57 yards, he hasn’t played much all season. This is fairly common with most freshmen sitting behind their older teammates as they learn to play at the collegiate level. Bauman spent much of the season working closely with the tight ends coach Slade Nagel and learn from team veterans Tyrick James and Will Wallace.
James had spent much of the season as a starting tight end, but Wallace was named the starter for the Cotton Bowl. Wallace’s primary role on offense is to be an added blocker on the offensive line, so Bauman is Pratt’s big receiving weapon.
Green Wave’s offense was run-heavy for most of the game, and Bauman wasn’t used much outside of blocking. Pratt aimed for the tight end once in the second quarter but missed. In the third quarter, Pratt threw deep to Bauman for a gain of 16 yardswhich helped the team drive down the field and set up a Spears touchdown.
On the final comeback drive in the fourth quarter, Bauman was crucial to get through the USC defense. The back to back 24-yard receptions from him and then Duece Watts forced the Trojan defenses to carefully cover several received threats. Watts was later taken out of the game after colliding head-to-head with a USC player while receiving a touchdown.
Two games later, with just nine seconds left, Pratt backed into the pocket and delivered a ball pass between two USC defenders and straight to Bauman. The ball bounced around in his arms before coming down with the ball. The stadium waited for the umpires to review the call and determine that it really was a touchdown. The call was good and put the icing on the cake of what was arguably the best Tulane football season ever.
This game-winning touchdown will go down as one of the most iconic moments in Green Wave football history, cementing a football legacy for Bauman. With the veteran tight ends graduating after this season and with several years of eligibility remaining, you can expect his name to be heard a lot more in the years to come.