Unfortunately, this Khalif Herbin TD in 2014 was the last for the Owls on a PR.
One of the most frustrating things to Temple football fans coming out of the 2014 season was the lack of a punt return game. After Khalif Herbin got hurt, the Owls’ top returner was John Christopher, averaged 2.0 yards per return. Last year, things improved significantly as Sean Chandler was the top punt returner with a 12.2 average as he returned 16 punts for 195 yards. Robby Anderson was next with nine returns for a 5.9 average. Neither scored a touchdown on a return.
Still, those numbers could not compare to Delano Green’s 2009 season, when he had 20 returns for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Chandler, though, seems to have that explosive first step needed but he is a valuable starter and the Owls might want to consider other options in the return game.
The possibilities are endless, and these are just five:
- Nate L. Smith
The leading punt returner in the history of high school football in the state of Pennsylvania, Smith has never been given a long look at the position at Temple and maybe this year deserves it. Playing for Archbishop Wood, he had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in the state title win over Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt. He was given only one chance to return a punt with the Owls and that was a 21-yard return that set up a game-tying field goal against AAC champion Memphis.
- Kareem Ali Jr.
Ali, a four-star recruit, is the son of a couple of speedsters, his mom, Tasha, a track star at Temple, and his dad, Kareem Gilliard, a speedy slot receiver at Temple. He put that speed to good use last spring as he was the team’s top punt returner in practices. Yet because he would not start, he was awarded a redshirt year. If he can duplicate the explosive returns of a year ago, he should be the guy.
- Cortrelle Simpson
He was two-time Scout Team player of the week in 2015 (prior to Penn State and East Carolina) and has run a 4.33 40 at the Ohio State camp. He had an amazing 795 kick return yards as a high school player, almost all amassed over his junior and senior seasons at Lackey High in Indian Head, Md.
- Freddie Johnson
If the above three do not work out in the spring, the cavalry arrives in the summer in the form of North Ft. Myers’ product Freddie Johnson, a dynamic punt returner who is the county 200-meter champion.
- Randle Jones
The special teams MVP at North Miami High (primarily for kick returns), he is also a track star who plays wide receiver, like Johnson.
Friday: Early Architectural Drawing of New Stadium