|Devonte Watson’s unannounced arrival at the E-O is the biggest sensation of camp so far.|
Normally in this space on this day in the past, we’d make up some story with enough of a kernal in truth to raise eyebrows.
Not this year.
April is here but, for the first time, it doesn’t feel like April. There will be no Cherry and White game for one difference and that’s a first in my lifetime. When I go for a jog in the park, everyone has gloves and masks. All winter long while freezing talking my daily walks on the trail, I’d yell to my bicycle friend Les “I can’t wait until April” as we both noted how freezing it was.
It’s April, but it’s not how I thought it would be.
This will be a memorable April if we get through it and hopefully we won’t see another one like it. So instead of an April Fool’s story this year, we’ll republish the one that got the most reaction in terms of page views. I still think there’s some innovation left in football and one of those things would be to find a 6-11 guy with a 41-inch vertical leap and a 97-inch wingspan, plant him behind the nose guard and have him block field goals all day.
Here is that story:
For the rest of his football coaching life, new Temple University football head coach Matt Rhule will probably do a lot of the same things old Temple coach Al Golden did.
Look where it got both Temple and Al.
|Devonte Watson’s Temple ‘][‘ gloves had to be specially
ordered and reinforced with extra padding so that he doesn’t
sustain a hand injury from blocking so many field goals.
So I was only amused and not surprised when I heard that Rhule is making folks visiting the Edberg-Olson Football Complex to sign a sheet asking “not to report anything football-related” they see at practice.
Golden used to do the same thing.
“What’s he doing there, enriching uranium?” I asked when someone told me that Rhule adopted the Golden Rhule regarding secrecy.
Enriching uranium at football facilities is not a new thing.
Enrico Fermi did the same at the University of Chicago in the early days of World War II.
Well, it turns out that Rhule is enriching uranium (in a football-science way) and the result could be of nuclear proportions in the college football world this fall.
At least in the science of sport according to a report in this morning’s Temple Times.
About 150 years ago, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell created a sensation in science with these few words:
“Watson, come here, I need you!”
Thomas Watson was his assistant and Bell had just spilled acid while inventing the phone.
The moment changed the science of communication forever.
Another Watson, this one named Devonte, may have helped change the science of football last week at Temple University’s football practice.
|This morning’s Temple Times broke the news.|
A freshman on a basketball scholarship, Watson showed up unannounced at Edberg-Olson Hall, the school’s football practice complex, the day after the basketball Owls were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by top-seeded Indiana.
“All I could see was this tall guy ducking under the door,” Rhule told The Times. “He shook my hand and said, ‘Coach, I’m Devonte Watson, I want to come out for the football team.’
“I mean, he’s 6-foot-11, I thought he was a basketball player and I asked him flat out: Are you on a basketball scholarship?’ He said he got permission from coach (Fran) Dunphy. So we got him in the biggest uniform we could and told him to get out there.”
First off, Rhule said, they tried him at wide receiver.
“He was OK there,” Rhule said. “You see he could catch the ball but he wasn’t comfortable running routes. He’s 6-11, got a wingspan of 97 inches, and we figured we could use him on red zone offense but then some of our other coaches had other ideas.”
“We’re all about giving youngsters college experiences they’ll never forget and Devonte won’t forget this. Look, I didn’t bring him here with the intention of blocking field goals for our football team but that’s where his road led. He obviously has a gift.”
_ Fran Dunphy
Special teams coach Allen Mogridge had the best suggestion, Rhule said.
“Allen asked Devonte what he was known for best as a high school player,” Rhule said. “Devonte said, “Blocking field goals.’
“That’s it, Allen said. Allen suggested that we put Devonte on the special teams, blocking field goals.”
For the better part of all last week, that’s what Watson did.
Block field goals.
Boy, did he ever.
When one of the Temple kickers launched a field goal attempt, the freshman with a vertical leap of 39 inches stuck his big paw out and blocked it almost every time. Kick thud, followed by block thud.
“He’s amazing,” Rhule said. “Nothing gets by him. He’s not only 6-11 but he’s got these incredible instincts to block field goals. He just stands there behind the nose guard and jumps up and the kicker has got no chance. Think about it. In basketball, all of these great athletes are driving in a full speed and he still blocks their shots. In football, all he’s got to do is stand behind the nose guard and time a kick. It’s easy by comparison.
“We tried all three of our kickers and he must have blocked 10, 11, 12 field goals in a row. He’s like Bernie Parent was with the Flyers. Nothing gets by this guy. I don’t want to jinx him, but it’s really going to be hard to kick field goals against Temple this season.”
When asked about Watson going out for the football team, Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy told the Temple Times he gave his OK.
“We’re all about giving youngsters college experiences they’ll never forget and Devonte won’t forget this,” Dunphy said. “Look, I didn’t bring him here with the intention of blocking field goals for our football team but that’s where his road led. He obviously has a gift. All I asked Matt was not to get him hurt and Matt said he’d do his best. Matt won’t let him catch passes. He won’t allow him on the kickoff return or receiving teams. He just wants Devonte to block field goals. That’s good enough for me.”
Err, one more thing.
Happy April Fool’s Day everyone.
Other notable Temple Football Forever April 1 stories in the past: