Recruiting: Encouraging Signs in Early Returns

smiling

Not every recruit gets to experience this championship feeling like they do at Temple

College football recruiting ranking this early in the game are like exit polls in politics.

They don’t mean much except to a small core of addicts but do give some insight into where the process is headed.

For Temple football, that apparently is a good place because the Owls through their early camps—the places where the hard recruiting work is done—seem to be doing just fine with their AAC peers and, more importantly, the future regional P5 schools on the schedule.

Let’s take the Temple versus Rutgers and Temple vs. Georgia Tech  comparisons for instance. It’s important because Temple plays GT in 2019 and 2020 and RU in 2020 and 2021.

On Scout.com, which now encompasses the old 247.com site (with 50 full-time recruiting experts on the staff, Temple is ranked No. 63, while Rutgers is ranked 54. Both teams have six commitments with RU having five “three-stars” and Temple three of the same. Both teams are ahead of schools like Kansas State and Texas Tech.

On Rivals.com, Rutgers is No. 58 and Temple is No. 58—also ahead of Kansas State and Texas Tech. GT is 44 on Scout and 46 on Rivals. These numbers, of course, could change for the better or the worse but a lot of the groundwork has been laid by this charismatic coaching staff who connects well with the kids.

To use a political term, that is within the “margin of error” meaning that depending on how the respective staffs “coach up their player” could mean give one school or the other the overall talent advantage a couple of  years down the line.

Given Geoff Collins’ proven track record at places like Florida, Mississippi State, Alabama and Georgia Tech, that’s a good sign for Temple.

Collins was the defensive coordinator at two of those schools and the recruiting coordinator at the two others so he knows the talent coming and going.

By this time, Collins should know what he’s doing in terms of what it takes to push the right buttons in the kids’ (and their parents’) minds to get them to commit. It certainly helps that he has a world-class university in a world-class city to sell.

Signing day will tell the rest of the story, but the exit polls are trending in a very good way.

Monday: Birthday Wishes

Wednesday: No News Is Bad News

Friday: Expanded Bowls

Monday (6/25): New Redshirt Rule

Wednesday (6/27): Under (Center) Pressure

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The King of All Classes

 

 

 

Cincinnati has Tavion Thomas, Temple has Travon King.

While no one really knows if either one will make an impact with their respective schools, the takeaway from National Signing Day on Wednesday was that Temple went for length and speed and character and Cincinnati reached for the stars.


You can talk about length,
speed and character until
you are blue in the face,
what matters most is wins
on Saturdays. That’s really
all that matters

Thomas, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound running back from Dunbar in Dayton, picked his nearby hometown squad after decommiting from Oklahoma. His final three were Cincinnati, Tennessee and Ohio State.

File that name away because what Cincinnati and the other AAC schools do is important in comparison to what Temple does. Cincinnati had the No. 1 recruiting class as ranked by the website 247.com (recently merged with Scout.com) and while the same service ranked Temple’s class as its best ever, it was still behind the Bearcats.

All you have to do is check the number of five-stars and four-stars on rosters like Alabama and Ohio State over the past few years to determine what the meaning of them on the field can be.

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Geoff Collins, also a second-year coach, has not signed a four-star yet.

Maybe next year.

No one at the signing ceremony at the Aramark Facility (a huge upgrade, by the way, from the Student Pavilion) seemed to mind.

There were many of the obligatory ohhs and ahhs watching the highlight films of the Temple recruits. Here is the complete breakdown with heights, weights, 40 speeds and even some academic achievements. Nary a negative word will be found about this class on Pravda or any other site that covers Temple regularly using notepads, pen and tape recorders and “making phone calls”, but we will try to offer some balanced objective perspective here untainted by receiving a paycheck from Temple.

At the end of the presentation and remembering the similar feeling I had watching recruiting highlights the last three years, I got up out of my seat and the first thing I said to Temple linebacking legend Steve Conjar was: “How do we ever lose a game with these kind of players?”

(I did not have the heart to mention maybe it’s because we do some questionable, OK stupid, things like passing on first-and-goal at the Army 1 when we had the best fullback in the country available to lead block for a running back who gained 151 yards that day.)

It’s what you do with the players once you get them that determines wins and losses.

King represents what Collins is trying to do with this class. Collins called King a “designated pass rusher” and he had a couple of those in this class. If Temple can find a DPR who is also able to play the run well, that will be the guy who sees the field.

It would be nice to have reached up and grabbed a (five) star or four stars, but this is the process at Temple now and we won’t know if it’s a better one than the other teams in the conference until a couple of years from now. You can talk about length, speed and character until you are blue in the face, what matters most is wins on Saturdays. That’s really all that matters.

For now, though, the guys already in the program will have to make their mark. For the guys signed with this class, a little more patience is required.

Monday: Possible Johnson Replacement

Wednesday: Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes

Friday: Developmental Program?

Killing Two Birds With One Stone

coppers

Every year, I make a point of heading down to the Liacouras Center to check out one or two basketball games.

Not this year.

I’m just not as into basketball at Temple as I am football and never have been, but I love Temple and love the state-of-the-art arena the basketball team calls home so it’s always been an enjoyable venture the few times I could get out. The place seats 10,400 and is a spectacular modern facility as good as any on The East Coast. I can only pray the new football facility being built next to it is held in as high an esteem nationally but, for $130 million, I have my doubts.

After the basketball Owls beat Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn and Wisconsin early in the season, I thought it was going to be really enjoyable but then those wins were sandwiched around loses to George Washington and LaSalle, among others, and I said no more. Nothing in sports is more frustrating than a team capable of beating good teams losing to really bad teams so I thought I’d sit this season out completely.

Until something arrived in the email the other day: A Temple football event.

recruiting

On February 7, there will be a recruiting event—called a celebration—at 5 p.m. Since the event ends at 7 and a basketball game begins then, my streak of going to at least one LC game a year since its opening will continue. The cost of the recruiting event is $20 ($25 for non-Owl Club members) and you can get a basketball ticket for as low as $12 added on, which I did. Pre-registration is encouraged so check your emails.

Call it killing two birds with one stone.

The recruiting part should be a celebration of the great job Geoff Collins did in that department this season. While he hasn’t signed any four stars, the depth of three stars is far deeper than Matt Rhule’s last full class. Of the first 25 signed commitments, 22 were three stars and above. Rhule signed only nine three stars and above in his last “full” class, the one after the Houston championship loss.

This is a consistently good class with a lot of guys who turned down Power 5 schools—offers, not just interest—to play and be educated in one of the greatest cities of the world. This is a class certainly deep and talented enough to be capable of beating the P5 teams and former traditional Eastern rivals on the schedule in the next few seasons.

Hearing Collins talk about how it came about is certainly worth the trip to town. While there, you might as well kill two birds with one stone—even though the other bird is a once vibrant now sickly Owl that certainly needs the love and attention it is not getting this winter.

Monday: The Attendance Bar

TU Recruiting: Collins Deserves An A

beatty

Trad Beatty is the jewel of Geoff Collins’ second recruiting class here.

When I think of Temple football recruiting the words of Ronald Reagan come to mind:

“Trust, but verify.”

Reagan’s words came during nuclear armaments talks with Mikael Gorbachev when both the United States and the then Soviet Union were casting cautionary glances at one another.

It also helps to apply the same formula to judging Temple recruiting.

Al Golden never asked Temple fans to accept him at his word when he said he came up with a great recruiting class. He cited other sources as well. Golden was proud that both Scout.com and Rivals.com rated three of his five Temple recruiting classes as No. 1 in the MAC but even prouder when he could point out that at least five of his recruits each year were offered—not just getting interest—by Power 5 schools.

In just one month in his first year on the job, Golden—already having solid East Coast recruiting connections from stints at Boston College, Penn State and Virginia—convinced guys like Adrian Robinson to turn down Pitt for Temple and Kee-Ayre Griffin to turn down Boston College for the Owls.

ryanerasmus

Both of those guys are gone from this earth too soon, but certainly not forgotten to Temple fans. They were part of the core group of kids who stopped a 20-game losing streak and turned around a program many said could not be resuscitated.

That’s brings us to Geoff Collins’ second class of recruits and there are signs that this class is verifiably good. While we gave him a C for gameday coaching, we have to give him an A for recruiting based on the fact that other, even more highly-paid, staffs wanted kids who could have gone anywhere, but chose Temple.

It’s nice to trust him, but nicer that the trust can also be verified.

Think of it this way:

While Collins did not rely on East Coast recruiting connections, he certainly extended the circle of good recruits to areas where he was more comfortable recruiting: Namely, the South.

Getting quarterback Trad Beatty here from Ben Lippen High in South Carolina was a major coup because Beatty had solid offers from Mississippi State and North Carolina State.  You don’t win in college football without a big-time quarterback and Beatty has that kind of pedigree. Let’s put it this way: He’s likely closer to Adam DiMichele and P.J. Walker in skill set than he is to Chester Stewart and Vaughn Charlton. Get me to DiMichele and I’m happy.

Running back Kyle Dobbins, from South Jersey, had offers from Rutgers, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Northwestern, Boston College and Virginia Tech.

New York City wide receiver Sean Ryan had offers from places like Purdue, Nebraska, Syracuse and Maryland and defensive end Dante Burke had offers from Maryland and Georgia Tech.

I think the biggest impact player could be defensive end Nick Madourie, a JUCO, who had an offer from Purdue and 15.5 sacks this past season. Nick because he could be an immediate starter opposite Quincy Roche (and ameliorate the losses of rush ends Sharif Finch and Jacob Martin). Khris Banks, the top two-way lineman in New Jersey, could play right away as well.

Dobbins could play right away at running back, providing some needed depth behind Ryquell Armstead and David Hood. (Here’s hoping Jager Gardner—who has the longest run from scrimmage in Temple history—returns to full health. Plus, Tyriek Raynor, a former Arizona commit, could be healthy next year as well.)

Collins worked hard on this recruiting class and deserves an A. That he was able to wrap almost all of it up by the first signing date even with prepping the team for a bowl win is all the more impressive.

We’ll be able to determine the true value of this class five years down the line but, if you want to beat Power 5 schools (the Owls have a few of them peppered on the schedule), you’ve got to beat Power 5 schools for quite a few players.

Don’t trust Geoff or me, trust the more higher-profile Power 5 coaches who verified much of this class. It helps ease any anxiety that a whole different set of professionals watched the same film and see the same things Collins and his staff does.

Monday: High Hopes

Wednesday: Stadium Thoughts

Recruit Edition, Where Are They Now?

Some Sean Ryan highlights from last year are here. 

Most Philadelphia 76ers’ fans of a certain age will remember Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall as the place where one of that high school’s greats, Billy Cunningham, put the organization on top of the basketball world twice.

Once, as a player for arguably the greatest NBA team ever, the 1967 Sixers, and once as the coach of the 1983 champs.

Now the City of Philadelphia has dipped into “The Hall” to pluck another great athlete, Sean Ryan, and if he has the same effect on the Temple football organization as Cunningham did on the Philadelphia basketball one, it will be a great ride.

erasmus

Ryan, a wide receiver, already has had an impact on the recruiting rankings. He is Temple’s 19th verbal to date and, so far, the highest-ranked player, period, of any position, head coach Geoff Collins has been able to reel in with his first full recruiting class.

More importantly, the class is ranked No. 47 overall in the country by Rivals.com and No. 1 in the AAC. If the Owls are able to hold it together until the early signing date of December 20th, they stand a very good chance of bettering their highest-ranked recruiting class in the last 10 years.

Amazingly, that mark was not set by Al Golden or Matt Rhule, solid recruiters in their own right, but by Steve Addazio (54, also in his first recruiting year). No. 54 was the highest-rated national recruiting class we could find and that was by Scout.com. In his five years, Golden had the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the MAC three of those years and he sold that ranking every recruiting night.

Why are recruiting rankings so important?

Trust, but verify. If your coach, like Rhule, is identifying the two-star kids and hitting on them, that’s fine. It’s even better if your coach is getting the kids other highly-paid coaching staffs want.

That’s true with most of Collins’ haul and that’s the main reason why Owl fans should be so excited. Another is that he is out-recruiting the Power 5 teams he will face in 2020, like Rutgers and Maryland. This is a guy who is recruiting like he plans to be around for awhile and not live off the Rhule recruits and exit stage right.

That’s a great sign.

Another player, Rondell Bothroyd, out of Connecticut, turned down his hometown school, Yale, and his home state school, UConn, along with Boston College, for the Owls. He projects as a DE and a really good one because he had 13 sacks as a junior.

The Owls need Bothroyd but might need Ryan more.

Ryan is just the player Temple needs now. While the Owls are deep at receiver, Ventell Bryant, Keith Kirkwood and Adonis Jennings will soon be gone and no one would be surprised if it’s to the NFL. Isaiah Wright is ticketed for stardom, but more in the slot than as a prototypical wide out.

Ryan is that prototypical wide out and, by the time he gets here, there will be plenty of opportunity for him to shine.

Just like another Erasmus Hall guy who made it to Philly.

Monday: Double-Jointed

Real News

There are plenty of reasons to turn to the sports pages nowadays and one of them is the news.

When Team A beats Team B, no one says it’s Fake News. There is a score, a scoreboard and highlights proving it’s real news.

The same is true for college football recruiting.

There is nothing fake about what Geoff Collins is doing by elevating the Temple recruiting pedigree.

Last year at this time, the Temple commits—mostly—had solid offers from schools like Old Dominion, Stony Brook and Towson, while, this year, the solid offers are from schools like Maryland and Mississippi State.

On this day, we can only laud the hustle of Collins and the proof is right there in black and white in the names of the schools he’s beaten for Temple recruits.

Since we left the recruiting trail a few days ago, the Owls have added two more recruits, defensive end Dante Burke of Bishop Sullivan in Virginia Beach (Va.) and athlete David Martin-Robinson of Hempfield (Pa.).

Let’s take Martin-Robinson first.

He could play tight end, linebacker, wide receiver or safety which fits him well within the “position flexibility” concept of Collins’ recruiting.

Maryland and Rutgers offered Martin-Robinson.

As for Burke, he had summer visits lined up to a number of Power 5 schools but said as soon as he set foot on the campus of Temple University, he knew it was the perfect fit.

He had offers from Rutgers, Maryland and Georgia Tech.

With those two in the family, there are 10 scholarships remaining for Collins’ first full class. It’s just another reason to right past the front page into the sports section every morning. If the final 10 are anything like the first 15, this story could get more compelling every day.

Wednesday: Summer Practice Priorities

Friday: Class Warfare

2018 Temple Recruits: History Revisited

Amir Gillis (No. 1 for Simon Gratz) is listed as an “athlete” by Temple

Though it is not cited in any history book, a pretty convincing argument on the history of the Temple football program changing can be made by Al Golden’s first recruiting class.

In it, there were 29 guys signed—four more than the usual take—and 18 of them were captains of teams that won their high school league championship games.

Five were guys who got solid offers, and not just “interest,” from Power 5 teams.

One, Adrian Robinson, was an MVP of the Big 33 football game between Pennsylvania and Maryland.

There was a thought process with Golden’s first class that would endure through five of the best recruiting years the Owls had since Bruce Arians roamed the sidelines. Golden wanted leaders and he wanted winners, so he targeted captains of championship teams. He wanted a full team, so he recruited 11 offensive guys, 11 defensive guys and a couple of specialists every year. Mix in those players with guys Power 5 schools wanted, coach up the other guys and that laid the foundation of Golden’s house of brick, not straw.

When Golden left for the Miami (Fla.) job five years later, he left a foundation of talent that won the school’s first bowl game in over 30 years.

A lot of what Golden did with his first class is being done by Geoff Collins with his second class.

Collins seems to have spread the offers over a number of positions, getting a quarterback, a linebacker a defensive end, a specialist (athlete), a running back, a corner, a couple of wide receivers and a couple of offensive linemen. The days of Steve Addazio offering scholarships to the “best player available, regardless of position” seem to be over.

Take, for instance, the story of Jaydee Pierre, a defensive end out of Dominion (Va.). Pierre is 6-0, 295 who had solid offers from Boston College, Rutgers, Maryland, Northwestern and North Carolina State. He could have taken any of those offers. He chose Temple. He could be for this class what Robinson was for Golden’s first one.

Trad Beatty, a quarterback from Columbia (S.C.) who is 6-5, 200, had offers from four Power 5 schools (along with G5’s Georgia State) but said “Temple was the one school that checked off all the boxes” in terms of academics, feel with the current players and offensive system. He will have a 6-1, 175-pound receiver in Kadas Reams, who ran a 4.37 last week in Temple’s camp. The first school to offer Beatty was Mississippi State, which did not check off as many boxes for the young man as Temple did.

Love the way this kid calls the interviewer “sir.”

There is much to like about the current 13 players he was able to sell Temple to, but it’s really encouraging one of the biggest targets said “Temple checked off all the boxes” because when Golden was recruiting, Temple did not have many boxes for perspective recruits to check.

Now Temple has plenty of boxes and, with a dozen more scholarships to give out, the smart recruits left are going to grab their box of goodies before they are all gone.

Wednesday: Perspective