Kevin Copp breaks down the class
The long-range forecast for Annapolis is shaping up as pretty good for a week from today, which is good for Temple football.
The even longer-term forecast for Temple football recruiting: Not as good.
Like the weather, though, long-range recruiting forecasts can be imprecise and there is the hope that this one is, too. Early signing day has come and gone and Rod Carey’s staff–despite losing recruiter extraordinaire Fran Brown–was able to get 20 signatures on the dotted line. That leaves approximately five more signatures to get by the second signing period in February.
We’ll deal with those and the entire evaluation of the class at that time, though. For now, examining the trend is an important exercise and the Owls barely broke a sweat. The people who are paid to rate these things, Scout.com and Rivals.com, have Temple rated No. 8 and No. 4 among the schools that count, their fellow AAC rivals.
Do you think of Temple as an eight-place school in this league or even a fourth-place one? I don’t. The Owls have lost four coaches in a relatively short time span and, despite that, have the second-best regular-season record among AAC teams (only two games behind Memphis and at least one game ahead of everyone else). The Owls have one league championship and two league title appearances and only Memphis and UCF surpass those numbers at least in terms of championship appearances.
The goal should be higher than that, though.
Temple is in the middle of a vibrant city and right smack in the geographical center of 46 percent of the nation’s population, so winning both the recruiting and standings matter. If you don’t think recruiting ratings matter, just look at the teams that finish in the Top 10 every year. The Clemsons, the Ohio States, the Penn States, the Oklahomas and the Alabamas also routinely finish in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings. In the AAC, Cincinnati had the top recruiting class on either Scout.com or Rivals.com the last four seasons and, this year, beat out Temple, which did not. By the way, Oklahoma is on the schedule in 2024 so Rod Carey better get on the stick now.
… just look at the
teams that finish in
the Top 10 every year.
The Clemsons, the Ohio
States, the Penn States,
the Oklahomas and the
Alabamas also routinely
finish in the top 10 of
the recruiting rankings
Nobody is asking Temple to finish in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings but it would be nice every once in a while if the Owls would rip off a few 1-2 finishes in their own conference. Of Al Golden’s first five recruiting classes at Temple, at least three of them were rated No. 1 in the MAC by either Scout or Rivals. Four years after Golden’s first season, the Owls were playing toe-to-toe with a PAC-12 team, UCLA, in the Eagle Bank Bowl. There was no discernable dropoff in talent between the teams in that game.
I was struck by Marc Narducci’s story on the one recruited quarterback, Matt Duncan of Summerville, S.C. Narducci mentioned Duncan’s unimpressive four touchdown passes in his senior year by saying he had inexperienced wide receivers. I’m not buying it. A big-time recruit should have 25 or more touchdown passes, no matter if the waterboys are catching it. Anytime you mention the word “but” along with the stats is not a good sign. Anthony Russo had 35 touchdown passes in his final year at state champion Archbishop Wood.
Putting up big-time stats for an elite high school program certainly matters.
That’s one of the reasons I really like Nazir Burnell of Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg) who caught 27 touchdown passes in his senior year. That jumps off the page because, in the Al Golden Era and afterward, Bruce Francis’ 15 touchdown catches rates as the high-water mark in a single season for Temple receivers. Trey Blair of Haverford High should also become a great college player. The linebacker commit who turned down a Georgia offer, Kobe Wilson, should be in the running to start alongside Gasparilla Bowl defensive MVP William Kwenkew and Isaiah Graham-Mobley next year. Darrius Pittman, the tight end transfer from Purdue, has a chance to mollify the loss of Kenny Yeboah.
Other than that, a lot of them fall into the developmental category, generally speaking. Not that developmental players haven’t fueled success in the past, but you don’t want to punch your meal ticket on those types.
At his signing days, Golden got up and announced to the crowd that his classes were ranked No. 1 in the MAC several times and that statement drew loud applause. It was the result of his hard work and the hard work of recruiters on his staff like Ed Foley and Matt Rhule.
No doubt the Owls have survived a lot by developing the Keith Kirkwoods, the Tyler Matakeviches, the Quincy Roches, the Mo Wilkersons, the Haason Reddicks, the Matt Hennessys and the Jadan Blues–guys who were not heavily recruited–but recruiting an entire roster of those guys makes the margin of error even smaller. It would be nice to be able to develop those types alongside guys who were, say, a Big 33 MVP like Adrian Robinson (who de-committed from Pitt to attend Temple and had a great career here) or Russo, who turned down an LSU offer and is at least on track become Temple’s all-time leading passer in terms of yardage.
That’s the kind of mix Temple should try to achieve and, just from the early forecast, it looks to have fallen a little short. The good news is that Temple might enter next season as the overall league favorite and achieving that championship could spur an even better-recruiting class in a year.
Let’s hope the forecast for the weather report holds up in seven days and the long-term recruiting forecast changes more in the Owls’ favor by the end of the winter.
Monday: An All-American Game Week