The Soon-To-Be Departed

Nobody is dying on Saturday night, at least we hope not, but the Temple game versus East Carolina (7:30) will be a goodbye of sorts for a number of great seniors.

They will be departed from the program soon, but this is quite likely the last home game for a number of great seniors and all of them will be thought of highly here.

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Dion Dawkins (66), Colin Thompson (86).

The last few games watching Jahad Thomas made me shake my head because I’m really going to miss that guy and miss is the operative word because I’m going to miss him making other people miss. He really does it in a way that approaches magic on the football field. They call Eagles’ long-snapper John Dorenbos a magician, but even Dorenbos does not produce the kind of magic on the football field that Thomas has done since getting 157 yards as a sophomore against Tulsa.

This is what we wrote about Thomas then in a post published on Oct. 12, 2014:

“It could be so much better because watching Jahad Thomas play was like going back into a time machine and watching the great Todd McNair play for the Owls. Both wear No. 34.  Both have the same running style. McNair had great blocking fullbacks to follow through the hole and Thomas could have the same thing but both great blockers, Kenny Harper and Marc Tyson, are sitting on the bench when Thomas is in the game. McNair’s running opened up the play-action passing game for the Owls back then and Thomas’ running could open up the play-action passing game for P.J. Walker now. The two-back set is supposedly in the playbook, with plays featuring Harper as lead blocker through the hole for Thomas also in the playbook.”

Well, the dust had been wiped off and Nick Sharga, not Kenny Harper, turned out to be the lead blocker for Thomas and the rest is history. Thomas turned out to be an all-time great at Temple and the closest thing we have to a franchise running back since Bernard Pierce. In many ways, Thomas is better than Pierce—especially in his open field ability to make people miss. He’s a next-level slot receiver and the team that drafts him will be getting a steal.

You can’t mention Thomas without mentioning his Elizabeth (N.J.) high school teammate P.J. Walker. To me, Phillip is also one of the greatest Temple quarterbacks of all time. It is right there in black and white on the pages of the Temple record books, where he will exit Temple with all but one of the major quarterback records. Only Walter Washington, who ran through defenders like a Abrams’ Tank, will have a record P.J. doesn’t have—career rushing yards for a quarterback.

If P.J. leads this team to a league title, he can say he was the only quarterback to ever lead Temple to a major-college title (Temple was saddled with non-major status when it won the Middle Atlantic Conference title in 1967).

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Those two will not be the only ones missed, as OT Dion Dawkins will probably be Temple’s first No. 1 draft choice since 2011 (Muhammad Wilkerson) and Haason Reddick can go anywhere from first-round pick to a fourth-round. We think he’s a one, but I would not be surprised if he falls to the second round.

Averee Robinson also holds a special place in my heart since I’ve known his dad, Adrian, for at least eight years and proudly count him as a friend. Averee will be one of the few three-year starters at Temple leaving and he has been rock-solid in the middle of the line. Just as I wrote about his older brother, he played out of position at Temple to benefit the team. I suggested to Al Golden that Adrian was an OLB but Al told me he had a need for pass rushers and had to put Adrian at DE. He became an OLB in the NFL and Averee would be a terrific pickup for an NFL team wanting a 3-4 nose guard (playing DT at Temple now). I remember Averee when he was a kid coming to Temple games. “I love Temple,” Averee said as a 13-year-old once.

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Avery Williams orchestrated the defense.

And Temple loves Averee for all he has done for us.

Others playing their last game soon for the Owls are starting linebackers Avery Williams, Jarred Alwan and Stephaun Marshall, next-level defensive ends Romond Deloatch, Avery Ellis and Praise Martin-Oguike, defensive backs Nate L. Smith, Nate Hairston and Khiry Lucas and center Brendan McGowan. Tight ends Colin Thompson and Jake O’Donnell (a University of Miami graduate, yes, graduate) will also be leaving soon.

Sharif Finch also is listed as a senior defensive end, but a little birdie told us that Finch is likely to get a medical redshirt and return next year. If not, thanks for suckering Christian Hackenberg into that near-pick-six TD. If so, he and Jacob Martin would be a nice way to bookend the defensive line next year.

Either way, we’re going to miss these seniors who took a 1-2 season and turned it into something special and maybe the all-time greatest yet. Don’t think of this last “regularly scheduled” home game as a funeral, but as a celebration of their achievements to this point and points beyond.

Friday: ECU Preview

Sunday: Game Analysis

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19 thoughts on “The Soon-To-Be Departed

  1. Their passing attack has been quite scary, but so has ours in the past few games.

    – Hoping Navy loses @ SMU!

    • ECU is not a good football team. They score so many points because their defense is so bad they are always trailing big and teams give them a lot of space underneath and let the clock roll. They have one decent win and that is against a bad 5-6 AAC team, NC State. They have given up 30 plus points in 8 of11 contests. I think Temple will throttle this team big time.

  2. Temple has 8 players in the pros, half are from last year’s seniors. This senior class should produce four more. Eight in two years speaks well for the program with many more in the pipeline.., JT proved to be more durable than BP and just as productive.., biggest surprise has been how well the OL developed during the year.., first all the starters stayed healthy and McGowan stepped up his game..,

    • Hopefully, the byproduct of Dawkins and Reddick being drafted high will be that we can start recruiting more 4 stars and coach them up to be 5 stars rather than coaching 2 and 3 stars up to be 4 and 5 stars. I don’t buy the mantra that “because this is Temple” we cannot get top recruits. Anthony Russo and Tyriek Raynor might have been the first Pied Piper recruits, sounding the call for more Philly 4 and 5 star kids to stay home and fill Lincoln Financial Field.

      • Nail on the head and more players to the NFL = bigger TU Football brand. We need the stars in our own town to stay here, play, and grow. It always kills me to hear rock star talent from Philadelphia playing elsewhere. We’ll never have them all, but dang if we can’t get more of them.

  3. I hope we see them all play three more times, but I’d like to see Phillip hit Jahad on the numbers on a slant.

  4. These kids will go down in TU history as the group that made TU football relevant. Without them there is no Game Day, championship games, or just plain old respect. They’ve turned what was a joke of a program into a respected one that other teams are afraid to play. They are all winners and wish them the best in whatever they end up doing.

  5. I hope that hot prospects out there are watching as Temple, yes Temple sends more and more players to the NFL. I also like Coach Rhule and his staff’s ability to find and develop underrated players again and again. I have faith that we will replace these seniors with more great players , some of whom have already shown what they can do. I believe that Armistead will be the number one running back in the ABC for the next two years unless he, like Pierce, turns pro after next season. Isaiah Wright is another kid destined for the pros. He looks like he would be best used like the Eagles used Westbrook, lining him up at different places on the field and driving the opposing defense bonkers. Salisrab —– Dick White

    Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A

  6. This is a great group of kids, but this success begs the question, “who will be coaching the Owls next year?”

  7. MR is recruiting like he’ll be here next year.., not so sure about all the assistant coaches

  8. Winning a championship is something I would think is huge for most coaches. I think MR doesn’t think about leaving until (and if) he gets a conference championship under his belt and/or the PSU job is offered. There’s a chance the former happens in a few weeks. But the latter doesn’t happen for a few years. But no AAC title this year means he’s here next year. This coach seems pretty well grounded in more ways than his coaching. Enough money can affect anyone. But going to high pressure jobs (i.e. Texas) or lower tier P5 teams (e.g. Missouri or Virginia) just don’t seem to make sense for him at this point. Now if he wins the AAC and LSU comes calling, well?!?

  9. Just read the Inquirer article about Rhule being hired by Notre Dame in philly.com. There were 133 comments. I like the fact that so many people care about TU football and Rhule to respond. A few comments struck me. One that 4 and 5 star recruits might be more grief than it’s worth as opposed to the sense of achievement with coaching 2 and 3 star kids up to 4 and 5 star levels. Living in South Bend isn’t going to be fun for a guy that likes the big city and the Jersey shore (my brother in law ran into him and his wife at a restaurant just after the Rhule’s bought a vacation home). Dealing with the ND delusional views of ND supporters. And finally Kelly isn’t getting fired. The article was chum in the water. But I liked seeing a lot of people biting on it.

    Lastly, I normally have one or two of eight tickets go unused. No such problem this week. I think I could have offered tickets to a handful of people that would take them. Hope it’s indicative of a good gate for the game. And that the student section this year won’t be almost deserted like the game this weekend last year. For any students reading this, go to the game and see what could be the most accomplished team in TU history.

    • You know what I didn’t like? The fact that there were two other articles written on Temple football earlier this week with only 1/10th the comments. Journalism, as someone wrote on one of the chat boards earlier today, has degenerated into what can generate the most clicks. To me, the focus this week should be on the kids, not the coaches. No one knows if the speculation last year before the Houston game hurt Temple, but I guarantee you it did not help the Owls’ cause or preparation in that game.

  10. I hope all the readers of Mike’s blog have a happy Thanksgiving.

  11. back to unfinished business, conference championship, bowl win, and top 25 finish…, everything else is a distraction this time of year…,

    if 4 and 5 stars are such grief then why do we keep offering? every year in the MR era has seen a year over year increase in the number of offers to 4 and 5 star recruits.., we have exceeded the threshold for doing more with less..,

    this year’s recruiting class should reflect the benefits of back to back double digit win seasons..,,

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