Napolean Bonaparte was first credited with the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” but Temple football’s modern-day Napolean, the similar-sized Stan Drayton, might have illustrated it best with a memorable Monday night at the Edberg-Olson practice complex.
That’s where Temple’s first-year head coach didn’t need more than an hour or so to drop a couple of clues that might indicate what’s to come for the program.
Drayton departed from the Rod Carey Regime on many occasions this calendar year but none more than Monday night when he honored just six players with the coveted Temple football “Temple TUFF” single digits.
One, unlike Carey, Drayton took the decision away from the players and put it in the hands of the coaches.
Two, Drayton didn’t willy-nilly give the honor away but instead limited it to the six toughest guys.
What does that say?
First, the inmates are not running the asylum anymore. If you go 1-6 and 3-9 you forfeit any ability to name the other tough guys. That’s a good thing. Win, and get that privilege back.
Second, everyone gets a new start to impress a new coaching staff and the six players have earned it.
Third, it kind of indicates a surprise starter in cornerback Jalen McMurray and that means this coaching staff has an open mind.
Plus, McMurray has shown an uncanny ability to break on the ball for the last two years and that’s something that is more talent than taught.
The other five have been warriors who are established figures.
One, outside the program, Adonicas Sanders, who started 14 games for a Power 5 team before coming to Temple and has been a hero in at least a couple of them. He will wear Jadan Blue’s No. 5 and probably turn out to be an upgrade over Temple’s single-season leading receiver who set that mark in the 2019 season when the Owls finished 8-5.
The others are offensive linemen Adam Klein (a starter since he came here five years ago from Episcopal Academy) and Isaac Moore. In a 56-27 loss to Duke in the Independence Bowl, the blocking of those two were the highlights of that game for Temple fans. With their OL coach from that game returning, Chris Wiesehan, expect them to take that game to an even higher level this season.
Darian Varner, whose motor never stopped in a 3-9 season, is another single digit at DE (No. 9). He will wear the same number New York Giants’ Quincy Roche wore when he was at Temple and expect the same amount of pressure on the QB. It says a lot when a single player never quit in a season when a number of players quit on their head coach and Varner stood out as someone who played with pride.
Temple fans certainly noticed last year. It’s a good sign that Drayton has the same football IQ.
The other telling statement is that Jordan McGee (a linebacker who wears No. 6) will be a guy the Owls will inch to the line of scrimmage in blitzing situations in order to make life miserable for any bad guy’s quarterback. McGee has both the speed and the inherent hatred of quarterbacks to make it happen.
Those are a lot of statements about the immediate future of Temple football but none of those statements say as much as the photo at the top of this page does. These kids love each other, love Temple football, and will play with a passion we haven’t seen here in a while.
That last sentence contained 19 positive words. You can find 981 more by looking closely at the photos at the top of this post. One thousand words indeed.
Monday: A Hall of a Deal