Sometimes the memory can be a funny thing, brain teasers allowing recall in great detail of things that happen 40 years ago, but the same brain failing to tell you why you walked into a room five seconds ago.
It is with that in mind that we caution you to not take this list as the top walk-ons in Temple football history, just the top ones that we can recall at this moment.
Obviously, some are going to slip through the cracks but readers are welcome to include their own memories of Temple walk-ons below.
The subject of walk-ons comes up today simply because yesterday was the walk-on tryout date for Geoff Collins’ first team at Temple.
Here’s my list, with a heavy emphasis on the more recent ones. In a school of 39,000 students—presumably 20,000 young men—maybe at least one will turn out to be as good as these five.
Because of his size (5-5, 155 pounds), no Division I school showed an interest in Brown. He walked on at Temple, where they tried to play him at a slot receiver, but Al Golden—perhaps intrigued by Brown’s open-field moves in the return game—moved him to tailback and the rest was history. He was the bug part of the “Bernie and the Bug” pair and had to fill as a starter on the numerous occasions where Bernard Pierce was injured. Brown’s best game was his sophomore year against Army, where he gained 228 yards scored four touchdowns.
The kicker with the appropriate nickname of “Boom-Boom” walked on at Temple after making only four field goals his senior year at Phillipsburg-Osceola. He perhaps saved the season after starting kicker Austin Jones went down as a result of a cheap shot by a Memphis player on a kickoff. At the time, Jones had made an NCAA-best 17-straight field goals. Arguably, Boumerhi was just as good afterward.
Hayes returned a blocked extra point for two the other way and that was the key play in a 25-23 Temple win at Massachusetts. The 5-9 defensive back drew interest only from Division III schools, but always dreamed of playing Division I. He took the advice of a former Howell (N.J.) teammate and played a year at Milford (N.Y.) Prep to bulk up for a possible chance. He was a regular starting free safety on a 10-win Temple team.
Francis joined the program as a true freshman in the fall of 2005 as a walk-on. He later earned a scholarship. Named the recipient of the team’s inaugural Gavin White, Jr., Walk-On Award in the spring of 2006, Francis earned All-MAC honors last fall by Phil Steele Publications after averaging a team-best 73.1 receiving yards per game and finished his senior year with 13 touchdown receptions. He was the center of one of the most controversial plays in Temple history, with replays clearly showing him catching touchdown pass to beat UConn but the Big East replay official refusing to overturn the call. At the time, Temple was in the MAC and UConn was in the Big East. Francis is the Owls’ career leader in touchdown receptions (23) and tied with Gerald “Sweet Feet” Lucear in touchdown catches for a single season (13).
All indications point to Reddick being a late first-round NFL draft choice and it is pretty hard for any walk-on in Temple history to top that. Reddick started as a linebacker in Temple’s 41-21 win at Memphis to close out the 2013 season, but later earned first-team All-AAC honors as a down defensive end.