Temple has many more playmakers this year

Football is not a complicated thing.

Teams that make plays win.

Teams that have more playmakers make plays.

Adonicas Sanders

From where I sit, Temple has at least … at least … five big-time playmakers it did not have last year and that should play a role in the turnaround we wrote about in this space on Monday.

The Owls lacked a lot of things a season ago in finishing 3-9 but the sore thumb in this badly bloodied hand was a lack of speed.

For no matter how highly you think of last year’s running backs (Edward Saydee, Kyle Dobbins or Tayvon Ruley) or even record-setting wide receiver Jadan Blue (now at Virginia Tech) or even four-star starting quarterback D’Wan Mathis, none of them were able to take that ball, turn the corner and outrun anyone on a long touchdown run.

That’s not to say it didn’t happen. Randle Jones outran the entire Akron and SMU teams in recent years on his way to touchdowns and Amad Anderson took a short pass and did the same against Memphis.

Still, as a matter of course, Temple didn’t have enough of those kinds of players a year ago.

It does now.

Five come to mind:

Iverson Clement

Iverson Clement _ The former Florida Gator moved from running back to cornerback because the Owls need speed at that position. New coach Stan Drayton said he studied the film and no doubt saw a tight end chase down a Temple cornerback from behind in the South Florida game and made a vow that it won’t happen again. Iverson intercepts that same pass and puts six on the board in the fall. Because of a falling out with the former staff, Iverson didn’t see the field last year. He will see it this year.

Adonicas Sanders _ Sanders caught two passes against Duke, both for touchdowns in a 31-27 win for Georgia Tech last year, and no doubt Drayton has an inkling Sanders can reprise the role in the opener.

Darvon Hubbard

Darvon Hubbard _ The reason Texas A&M made Hubbard one of its prized recruits a couple of years ago was the elite speed at the running back position the Owls did not have last year. The 100- and 200-meter Arizona High School track champion had over 1,000 yards on just 99 carries at Willow Canyon High.

Dominick Hill_ A defensive back, it’s fair to say without the transfer portal, Temple doesn’t recruit a player like this. He was the No. 1-ranked player in the Orlando Sentinel’s 2020 Central Florida Super 60 and it’s easy to see why because he led Jones High in Orlando to a 13-2 record in 2019 with 30 tackles and a district-leading six interceptions as a senior. The Orlando area is considered the best area for recruits in the best state for recruiting in the nation.

Quincy Patterson _ After watching this young man’s film for the last four weeks, I’m convinced the Owls have recruited their best quarterback since beating out Nebraska for Dodge City Community College first-team All-American Walter Washington. As tentative as Mathis played for most of last season (other than the Memphis game, it appeared he was walking on eggshells), that’s how confidently Patterson plays a position that demands confidence. The Owls will rally around this special talent.

Those are just five playmakers the Owls have this year who did not see the field last year.

There are more and they will let themselves be known to the fans by making big-time plays that translate into wins.

The Next Big Thing: Fixing the WR position

The first aftershocks coming out of Stan Drayton’s inaugural spring practice at Temple are starting to be felt and it should not be surprising.

Drayton said several times early in the process that “nobody has taken a leadership role” at the wide receiver position and “that is something that needs to happen.”

Adonicas Sanders comes recommended by former Temple OC Dave Patenaude: “His work ethic is amazing.”

Translation: It didn’t happen so Drayton is making it happen.

Drayton is bringing in Michigan State’s Ian Stewart and Georgia Tech’s Adonicas Sanders at least one of them looks like a leader, if not both.

Sanders appears to be that guy.

A lot of the Duke players are still seeing Sanders’ game-winning catch against them in their nightmares and, if he does it again in the opener for a Temple win, that’s the kind of deja vu Owl fans would love to see.

As far Power 5 players transferring to Temple, the Owls haven’t seen this kind of productivity on the big stage in North Philadelphia since pre-season ACC Player of the Year (as chosen by that conference’s media), Montel Harris, arrived exactly 10 years ago. Then Temple coach Steve Addazio was looking to make a big splash because star running back Bernard Pierce left for the NFL draft, where he was selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the third round.

Harris delivered, rushing for over 1,000 yards that season, including a Temple-record 351 yards in a 63-32 win at Army.

Now Drayton is facing a similar leadership hole as Jadan Blue has left for Virginia Tech and Randle Jones embarks on a pro career soon.

Sanders’ P5 numbers aren’t quite as good as Montel’s but he has 14 Power 5 starts and caught 29 passes last year for 362 yards and three touchdowns. Pretty comparable to the 36 catches for the exact same amount of yards (362) it took current teammate Amad Anderson to compile in three years at Purdue.

So the Owls have a couple of guys, if both start, have produced during games in the ACC and Big 10. Add Stewart in the mix to a reliable holdover like Jose Barbon and the Owls are starting to build some depth for whomever the starting quarterback turns out to be.

Speaking of that, Sanders attended Charleston’s Burke High School in South Carolina. Matt Duncan, a backup quarterback at Temple who recently told Drayton he was entering the portal, is from Summerville, S.C.

One of the Owls’ rumored quarterback targets is Pitt transfer portal guy Davis Beville, who is from Greenville, S.C.

Maybe the South Carolina guys know something Temple fans will find out about soon.

Either way, whoever wins the Temple quarterbacking job will be inheriting a sure-handed group thanks to Drayton being proactive.

Friday: Networking