Temple’s Next NFL Back?

Matt Rhule is upbeat after scrimmage at Franklin Field.

It does not look like anyone is going to take Jahad Thomas’ starting tailback any time soon, but Temple head coach Matt Rhule turned some heads eight days ago when he said sophomore Ryquell Armstead had a chance to be the Owls “next NFL back.”

Rhule also said that Armstead possesses many of the same qualities Bernard Pierce had while he was recruiting that back out of Glen Mills. Both were track stars in high school and both ran a 10.8 100-meter dash.


Ryquell Armstead got plenty of support on signing day.

The difference so far has been that Armstead was not able to make an impact because he did not see as much of the field that Pierce did. That could change this year, though, as Thomas could be split out into the slot and Armstead or fellow sophomore Jager Gardner will be given more touches. This strategy accomplishes a couple of things—it keeps Thomas fresh and gives the Owls another edge weapon, which they will need to stretch the defense.

This is all predicated on whether or not Armstead or Gardner can make the most of their reps in real games. If one of those two guys starts accumulating yards in their sophomore years like Pierce did in his freshman one, the Owls go from one explosive player (Thomas as an RB) to two (Thomas as an WR and Armstead/Gardner as a RB). Imagine the nightmare matchup problems that makes for defensive coordinators this season. Mix in wide receiver Marshall Ellick (who has been wowing people since the spring) and the Owls could be really stretching defenses thin.

It all depends, though, on the expected development of the two sophomore running backs who need to produce like Bernard Pierce once did.

Wednesday: The Franklin Field Scrimmage


2 thoughts on “Temple’s Next NFL Back?

  1. think Rhule unintentionally misspoke.., JT will be listed as a RB but will probably get drafted as a 3rd down or special teams player.., think Rhule meant Ryquell could be an every down RB.., coaches are very high on Ryquell.., the 2016 team will be the first Temple team in quite a long time that will be the favorite in more than 8 games.., think the ’79 team came close?

    • I think he meant from a measurables standpoint (size, speed, durability) Ryquell has a better chance to be an NFL back than JT, who probably will be a slot receiver at the next level (either NFL or Canada). Still, it does not appear that RA or JG showed enough either last year or summer to beat out JT for the starting RB spot so that’s where he will start out. I have confidence in both Armstead and Gardner to be a great feature back. I see Hood as a third-down, Dave Meggett/Matty Brown type.

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