Isaiah Wright looks like Jerry Rice in this video.
National Signing Day is one of those days where all 126 FBS teams win and nobody fails. The kids on the tape all look like Jim Brown did before he entered Syracuse or Cam Newton did after he transferred from Blinn Junior College (Tx) to Auburn. The teams that finish in the top 10 in the recruiting rankings will point to those rankings; the teams, like Temple, who finish far outside the top 10 will tell you to trust the film. There is a lot of film to trust this year, though, and it looks like the Owls and head coach Matt Rhule will be rewarded for their tireless work ethic for at least these five reasons. As of press time, we know nothing about Karamo Dioubate, but fingers and toes are crossed.
- Speed Kills
With players like Linwood Crump (Sayerville, N.J.), Randall Jones (North Miami) and Tyliek Raynor, the Owls added the speed they seemed to lack in the Boca Raton Bowl. Depending on who holds the stopwatch, those guys have 4.3 or 4.4 speed. I don’t see No. 25 of Toledo or similar types being able to outrun these guys.
- Eighteen Redshirts
The Owls had the luxury of redshirting 18 players last year and it should pay off on the field this year and this class affords them the same kind of luxury. An example this coming year might be Cortrelle Simpson. The scout team MVP in 2015 (meaning only the players and coaches know how good he is), Simpson could be that 4.3 wide receiver type guy the Owls need. Think Keith Gloster in the Arians’ years or Travis Sheldon in the Golden years. In this class, the Owls could redshirt 18 or so more redshirts, including prized quarterback Anthony Russo. That theory also applies to the handful of linemen the Owls recruited, some who will be needed for starting positions in 2017.
- Immediate Safety Help
The first recruit after the Penn State win was a safety out of Virginia named Keyvone Bruton and that name is important because he could be one of the few members of this class to earn a starting spot right out of the gate. He’s polished and comes from an area (Hampton Roads) that plays great high school football. Plus, Benny Walls (St. Joseph’s Prep) is good enough to play right away as well.
- Isaiah Wright Flips
Well, the Owls did not get top WR targets Dae’Lun Darien (who flipped to PSU) and Darnell Salomon (who teased them with a twitter profile pic that showed him in an Owl uniform before committing to USF), but they did get Isaiah Wright to flip from Rutgers to Temple. This is a position of need for the Owls, unless they do something daring and break Jahad Thomas out in the slot to allow Jager Gardner and Ryquell Armstead to lock in a winner-take-all struggle for the starting tailback slot. My feeling is this: Without John Christopher, there is a need for a tough guy in the slot and Thomas is a proven tough guy who will make more explosive plays after catching the ball. The dropoff between him, Gardner, Armstead and David Hood is not so great as the one between Christopher and his potential replacements so breaking Thomas out will benefit the ball club. That leaves Wright a chance to become an immediate starter on a crowded other side that includes Ventell Bryant, Romond Deloatch and Adonis Jennings. This could work out. No truth to the rumor than Salomon decommitted after he learned the nickname “Sal The Owl” was already taken.
- Bullseye For Top Target
All along, for the last two years, Anthony Russo had been the No. 1 target for the Temple coaching staff. It’s very rare that a Temple coaching staff lands its No. 1 guy. Only two coaches I know ever did. Bruce Arians targeted a wide receiver from Moscow (Pa., not Russia) named Mike Palys. Penn State also wanted him badly. Palys asked Joe Paterno if he would be allowed to play baseball. Paterno said no. Arians said yes. Later, recruiter extraordinaire Ron Dickerson targeted a quarterback named Kevin Harvey from Paulsboro, N.J. Harvey was only the Parade first-team All-American quarterback. Having seen Russo live several times and on TV a few more, I’m extremely confident Russo needs only a redshirt year to pick up where P.J. Walker left off and I could not say that about anyone else two months ago.