College football a couple of days ago was fun.
Not a single transfer portal player in sight, no NLI deals and no big game opt outs during Saturday’s 20-17 thrilling win for Army over Navy in the same stadium Temple calls home.
It was a refreshing respite and a reminder how college football used to be.
Somehow, the pendulum has swung the other way for the remaining 128 FBS teams (Air Force also enjoys the same immunity to the current ills of the system).
Reality returns today and Temple has to play the game by today’s rules. Because Darian Varner left for the portal and because Jose Barbon declared for the NFL draft, a pass rusher and a wide receiver are a couple of positions Temple didn’t need to fill a few weeks ago but must address now.
First things first, though.
RUNNING BACK _ Temple, as I see it, needs a big-time running back to take some of the pressure off quarterback E.J. Warner. The Owls cannot be placed in a position where they have to pass the ball on 3d and 1 like they did in a 49-46 loss to ECU. Joquez Smith, the incoming recruit from Tampa Jesuit, might address that need but he’s 5-7 and the Owls need someone who can get the inside yards and also has the speed to get outside. We mentioned in this space a week ago Ball State’s Carson Steele and Alcorn State’s Jarveon Howard, but those aren’t the only two. UCF’s Bentavious Thompson is also in the portal as is Northern Illinois’ Harrison Waylee (1,018 yards, five touchdowns). Western Michigan’s Sean Tyler also is a 1,000-yard rusher and he’s available. Gotta like those guys’ consistency over Edward Saydee, who had one breakout game. The thing Temple can sell all of these top running backs is head coach Stan Drayton’s earned reputation as a running backs’ guru and current NFL players like Ezekiel Elliott are willing to pick up the phone and put in a good word.
PUNTER _ Temple is without one but Monmouth’s punter, Ryan Kost (48.1 average) is less than two hours away and in the portal as in Arkansas punter Reid Bauer (44.6).
DE_ With Varner gone, four-star Missouri DE Travion Ford would be a good replacement. Already, Temple has made a home visit and defensive line coach Antoine Smith made a positive impression.
DL_ Smith also has a connection to portal transfer Devin Phillips, who has 39 starts as a defensive lineman at Colorado State, where Smith was his line coach two years ago. He’s 6-2, 290 and considered a very good run defender.
OL_ Another possible addition is Texas’ Andrej Karic, who worked with head coach Stan Drayton when he was the RB coach at Texas two years ago. Maryland lineman Austin Fontaine is also in the portal and Philly is a short drive up the road.
The difference in the portal between this year and last year is that the better players are getting scooped up almost as soon as they enter and he who hesitates is lost. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are so few scholarships available compared to players in the portal that players are more likely than not to take the first solid offer and reward a program that shows them some love.
That’s why Temple needs to strike while the iron is hot because in a couple of weeks, it cools down. Fans might not like how far the pendulum has swung away from fairness but the teams who learn to play by the new rules will thrive and the others will be left behind.
Friday: Next Man Up?