Judging from Temple opponents’ websites—and one Rutgers’ one—the conventional wisdom acceptable as gospel elsewhere is that “Temple has lost everyone and will return to being bad” in the 2016 season.
The pack of so-and-so fans nods their collective heads as if the OP has some inside knowledge of Temple football.
Those of us who are a little closer to the program, purchase season tickets, watch every minute of every game know better. Part of that more plausible narrative is that, while the Owls lose a great linebacker like Tyler Matakevich, they have three potential very-good-to-next-level linebackers returning in single-digit players Avery Williams (2), Nick Sharga (4) and Stephaun Marshall (6).
Think about that for a minute. Temple handed out nine single-digit numbers as voted by their teammates as the nine toughest guys in the 105-man program and three of those guys are not only returning, but also play the same position—linebacker. (We know Jahad Thomas and Sean Chandler also are among the returning single-digit players, too.)
Yes, Temple will miss Tyler but nowhere near as much as the Temple haters think.
That’s why it is important, although not absolutely vital, that the “Unsung Hero” of last year’s team, Sharga, gets to move to his primary position, which is linebacker. To do that, Temple will be looking closely at two names who can play fullback, Rob Ritrovato and Taiyir Wilson.
The interesting thing about Ritrovato was that the staff had confidence enough to play the 6-0, 228-pounder against Penn State. That’s when he suffered a season-ending injury. The other player listed as a fullback is Wilson, a mid-year enrollee from Fork Union (Va.), who is 6-2, 245. He played fullback at Perkiomen Valley prior to that.
If either of them show they can lead block for tailbacks like Sharga did, the Owls will have the luxury of moving Sharga over to the other side of the ball where he obviously has a nose for it.