Every time someone mentions that the Temple University football program should add a questionable character to the fold, I think of people like my new favorite incoming Temple player, Dante Burke, and one of my old favorites, Tyler Matakevich.
Burke befriended a few older people in an “old folks’ home” adjacent to his Virginia high school. He didn’t do it for fame or fortune, just did it to expand his horizons and become a better person.
Unbeknownst to Burke, one of the old folks he made a special bond with was a distant relative of a Virginia sportswriter who penned this remarkable story last week.
That brings us back to suggestions of the Owls grabbing a guy who allegedly (although there was damning video evidence) robbed a WAWA and dropped from the recruiting rolls at Penn State or a guy who had problems getting along with teammates at two Big 10 schools, the latest Rutgers, and is now looking elsewhere.
Geoff Collins not only has won more than he lost in his short time at Temple, but he has forged a special locker room. Good guys who are good players. Driven guys who want to succeed and are not going to let silly distractions get in the way.
Mixing in a bad apple here and there probably is not worth the effort.
Matakevich not only went from being unrecruited by everyone else to being the consensus national defensive player of the year in 2015. For all of the great tackles and five interceptions Tyler had that year, his most impressive move might have been the one he made to another old folks’ home when he gave then 97-year-old Temple grad James Woodhouse a few Temple items and exchanged war stories with the last player who was alive in a Temple win over Penn State.
“Tyler, that visit with Mr. Woodhouse was the greatest thing ever,” I told him at a post-game tailgate.
Mr. Woodhouse isn’t around anymore but the memories of that visit will last forever on You Tube.
“Thanks,” Tyler said. “It was an honor to have met him.”
“Tyler, he’s only saying that because we’re a lot closer to that guy’s age than we are to yours,” John Belli said.
All three of us had a good belly laugh that day.
Or a “Belli” laugh.
Now, at least one other player with a Tyler Matakevich mindset is joining the program. Temple TUFF mixed in with Temple SOFT is never a bad thing.
Pardon me if my favorite of the incoming class is selected already. I hope he has a million tackles on the field but he’s already a success off of it and, in the end, that’s more important.
Monday: Bombs Over Where?
Wednesday: The Latest Sign of the G5 Apocalypse
Friday: Scoreboard Watching