Owls dominate the NFL draft again

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Penn State might be Linebacker U. and Miami (Ohio) The Cradle of Coaches but Temple is developing into NFL U.

At least in the G5 football world.

Hard to come to any other conclusion than this for current high school recruits based on the  2020 NFL draft. If those players have an eventual goal of making the NFL and are on the fence between picking a P5 or a G5 school, Temple is the place to go.

It’s not just the 2020 draft. It’s been that way for a while. The Owls have been the No. 1 Group of 5 team for nearly a decade in producing NFL draft choices.

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Over the three days of the 2020 draft, center Matt Hennessy was drafted in Round 2 by the Atlanta Falcons, defensive back Harrison Hand drafted in Round 5 by the Minnesota Vikings, and linebackers Shaun Bradley (Round 6, Philadelphia Eagles) and Chapelle Russell (Round 7, Tampa Bay) also were picked.

The reasons have been simple. Al Golden re-established a Temple TUFF culture that carried over into the next four coaches. Golden did it by making running, lifting and toughness a 365-day deal at the Edberg-Olson Complex. His practices were legendary for the level of hitting involved.  It is now up to Rod Carey to sustain that culture. Tyler Matakevich explained it perfectly once. “Our practices are harder than the games, so we’re really prepared to hit come game time,” he said.

Playing in an NFL stadium around an NFL culture also helps.

A couple of interesting things about this current draft: Had Quincy Roche come out instead of going to Miami, he would have been no lower than a No. 4 pick out of Temple. He was unquestionably the best player on a defense that included Bradley, Hand and Russell.

Hennessy will be joining former Temple center Alex Derenthal as a resident of Atlanta. Derenthal is the strength coach at Georgia State (which beat Tennessee last year).

Bradley is the first Temple player drafted by the Eagles in a long time and has a chance to stick if he can cut down on the targeting penalties. He plays hard through the whistle and sometimes beyond. I thought Mel Kiper’s analysis of Bradley was way off. He said Bradley “didn’t pack a punch” but I don’t think I’ve seen a Temple player hit as hard as Bradley over the last four years, and that includes Roche. If anything, he packs too much of a punch.

I wish the Eagles drafted Hennessy as well since Jason Kelce is getting long in the tooth. Yet the Eagles were set on Jalen Hurts in the second round. It might be just me, but Justin Jefferson was the best wide receiver in the draft and the Eagles could have had him in Round 1 and either Hennessy or Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins in Round 2 and been much better off. If they were concerned about the backup QB position, they could have upgraded from Nate Sudfeld and picked some better options in the lower rounds.

No doubt in my mind that the Owls had a better three days at the NFL draft than the other birds playing in the same stadium but only time will tell.

Russell will get every opportunity to shine as Bruce Arians has pretty much an all-Temple staff at Tampa Bay.

Getting drafted his one thing. Sticking in the NFL is another and, based on watching their careers here, I think all five of these guys have a good shot. The last 12 Temple players drafted currently are still on active rosters and only eight schools–all Power 5–have that kind of streak going. For the fourth time in five years, Temple has had more players drafted than any other G5 school. Only the “mythical national championship” team of UCF had more players drafted than Temple in the last five years.

Whatever happens, Temple should parlay NFL drafting success into attracting better recruits starting now.

Friday: Temple in the 2021 Draft

Monday (5/4): 5 Best Next-Tier Wins

Friday (5/8): Suspending Campaigns

Monday (5/11): Virtual Press Conference

Friday (5/15): Recruiting Patterns

Monday (5/18): Smoking Out The Winners

2020: A hard year to be a college football fan

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Barbara Walters used to say: “This is 2020.”

The signature line to the ABC news show could be used halfway through the new decade today with one caveat: “This is 2020. The end of college football as we know it.”

The second sentence is important today specifically to Temple football fans because of the happenings of the last month or so and how it impacts the year ahead. Not only did Temple football fans get kicked in the stomach by a 55-13 loss to North Carolina (a game that they were only a 6-point underdog), they then got punched in the head a few days later when AAC Defensive Player of the Year Quincy Roche announced he was leaving not for the NFL but for another school. Hard to believe Harry (Donahue) that Roche figured he’d have a better chance to be drafted higher if he went to another school after Temple had two recent defensive linemen (Mo Wilkerson and Haason Reddick) drafted in the first round.

Then, just a few days ago, capable backup quarterback Toddy “Touchdown” Centeio also announced that he was also going to another school. First-string quarterback Anthony Russo has referred to Centeio as his “broski” but maybe Centeio’s departure will force head coach Rod Carey to abandon this ill-fitting read-option offense for one more suited to Russo’s talents. I doubt it. Losing Centeio was not a plus.

Kicked in the stomach, punched in the face and then kneed to the groin is pretty much how it feels.

The worst was Roche, a Temple alumnus. Can’t imagine him showing up at the tailgates in a few years here. Maybe he will show up at those of the next team. It’s kind of a wash considering I thought he’d go to the NFL, but this is a worst-case scenario I could not even imagine on the day when the Owls played UNC.

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This is pretty much how college football has changed in the last decade. Before 2010, a Temple fan could pretty much pick their favorite players (actually mine were all 85 guys suiting up on game days) and follow them through four years at Temple. Senior Day was always a sad occasion but it was offset by the fact that a new group was coming in every year.

Now we’re not even sure of a decent Senior Day anymore. Roche never had his year, nor did center Matt Hennessy. Centeio invested so much in the program he deserved one as well. A lot of it is understandable. Many of these kids had to go through three coaching staffs and their thought process has to be if it is a business for the coaches, it can be a business for the players.

Still, as fans, it’s really not fair and that doesn’t apply to just Temple. Almost all of the other “Group of Five” schools are adversely affected by the transfer portal and it doesn’t figure to get any better any time soon. Group of Five schools that recruited and developed players now face the prospect of developing them for Power Five schools. If Quincy Roche and Todd Centeio can leave Temple for other schools, will, say, Kenny Gainwell leave Memphis for LSU or some similar school?

Doesn’t seem to be fair to the fans, who either can’t or have no desire to cheer for anyone else. It would be a good story for 20/20.

Or 60 Minutes.

Monday: Red Flags

For Temple, All-American Game Week

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All you need to know about the football game Temple University will be participating in on Friday is that there is the potential for at least three first-team All-Americans to take the field one last time this season.

And that’s just for Temple.

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Annapolis weather is 55 with sun and clouds on Friday

Sam Howell, the current North Carolina quarterback, probably has a pretty good chance in the next year or two as well as do two of their linebackers.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if both defensive end Quincy Roche and center Matt Hennessy stay at the university for one more year, they will both move up from second-team All-Americans (USA Today’s Pro Football Focus team) to a more consensus first-team next season. That is a decision that’s up to them but a career is all about memories and legacy and Temple having two first-team All-Americans would be something extra special for each of those guys to carry through for their lifetimes.

Either way, they are both first-team All-Americans in my mind and Friday represents at least one more chance for this Temple fan to see them play.

 

To me, it would make sense for both to stay and not just because I’m a Temple fan. Neither player is projected above the third round and the real money and job security comes with being either a first- or second-round pick. No doubt in my mind a first-team All-American is a first- or second-round pick.

There is a huge risk involved in leaving early, as Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson found out last year. He was an undrafted free agent, cut and his football career is over. Jackson was the MAC offensive player of the year while leading Buffalo to a 10-4 season after he threw for 3,131 yards with 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 55 percent of his passes. Jackson also ran for 161 yards and seven touchdowns. Had he stayed at Buffalo, he would have been able to refine his game and move up on the NFL draft charts and had a much better chance to stick.

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That leaves the third Temple first-team All-American: Wide receiver Jadan Blue. There’s every reason to believe that with Anthony Russo here still dropping dimes to him, Blue can break all of the career and single-season Temple receiving records and, with that, become a first-team All-American as well. Blue already has the single-season Temple mark for catches with 80 this season, breaking Zamir Cobb’s mark of 74 set in an otherwise forgettable 2003 season. (For his first two years here, Zamir was known as “Charlie Cobb.”) Blue is within the range of Temple records for all-time yardage, receptions and touchdown catches and should literally grab those three marks next season.

If Hennessy and Roche join him for one more season of fun, the Owls will probably go into the season as the favorite to win the AAC and give Temple a real shot at three first-team All-Americans.

For Temple, it could be the difference between another 8-4 season and a 12-0 one.

Wednesday: Merry Christmas

Thursday: Game Preview

Saturday: Game Analysis