Class Warfare

offers

Without getting into names, this was a typical offer sheet for a Matt Rhule recruit a year ago.

Summing up Temple recruiting is pretty easy these days.

Matt Rhule had a bad year going out the door, Geoff Collins had a bad year (really, month) coming in and Collins seems to have rebounded with a nice crop if he’s able to water and harvest it by the new early signing day (Dec. 20).

Judging from a lot of the comments of the commits, that seems much more likely than not.

Collins was a recruiting coordinator at both Alabama and Georgia Tech and he’s learned a few tricks of the trade in addition to being an affable and amiable young man himself.

One of the Owls’ recent additions said what sold him on Temple was that when he got out of the car “the entire team was there waiting for me and shaking my hand and patting me on the back.”

People of any age like to be shown love, and that is a pretty innovative way of showing it.

Chalk that up to Collins’ experience.

That brings us to Matt Rhule.

Collins had an excuse for his first hastily put-together class.

Rhule, who hustled a pretty good class together even before he was head coach—for awhile, he was both Al Golden’s and Steve Addazio’s recruiting coordinator—showed signs of mailing in his final class.

While a lot of Rhule’s final class commits had offers from places like Old Dominion and Georgia State, a lot of Collins’ current ones have offers from Georgia Tech and Maryland.

It does make one pause.

Did Rhule have one eye on the door going into his final year at Temple?

All indications are that he was looking to get out.

When I saw this video posted by a guy called “Miami Mike” a year ago, I had one two-word reaction to his answer to the last couple questions here:

“He’s gone.”

He recruited with one eye on the door and he coached like it, too.

In addition to a final half-hearted recruiting haul, Rhule made no effort to get either of his backups, Frank Nutile and Logan Marchi, the kind of playing time they would need in order to be ready for this season. That point was made last week on this site by John Belli and it was a valid one. While P.J. Walker needed to play every down against teams like Penn State and UCF, he did not need to play nearly every down in games the Owls won 38-0, 48-20, 45-20, 31-0, 37-10 and 34-10. Those are the kind of games that big-time programs have the backups running the regular offense and throwing the ball in order to have guys ready. There was no excuse to sit Marchi or Nutile or have either of those guys handing off the rare snaps they had.

Add that to the recruiting, and Collins has a lot of catching up to do. He’s running pretty fast now. Let’s hope it’s fast enough.

Monday: House Money

Wednesday: Marketing Mayhem

Friday: The Mildcat

Summer Practice: Picking Up That Can

crew

As a matter of comparison, what has happened at the quarterback position since the departure of P.J. Walker has been simply a case of kicking the can down the road.

More precisely, four cans.

This summer’s practice isn’t all about picking up the can with the best ingredients but it will be the most intriguing development.

Collins, correctly, postponed the decision on starter until the summer practice that begins in a couple of weeks.

It probably won’t be announced on the first or second week, but probably settled on by the third or fourth week. No one would be surprised if it was revealed a few days before the Sept. 2 game at Notre Dame. Game notes being what they are, and a national television audience being what it is, the crew of the game probably would want to do their homework on the Temple starter on something other than the morning of the game. So don’t expect a game day surprise.

As it sits now, I cannot tell you who will start.

Collins probably couldn’t either.

That’s because no one really has separated themselves from the other in the four weeks of spring practice. Will it happen in the summer? Possibly, but it’s also possible that the talent level will be so close other factors have to be considered.

In Toddy Centeio, the true freshman from Florida, the Owls have a high upside guy. Maybe the highest. Still, when was the last time a true freshman led a team to a P5 or a G5 title? That’s probably the best reason for a redshirt year that includes time leading the scout team, building up muscles in the weight room and loading the head with modern offensive concepts in the film room.

That leaves Anthony Russo, Logan Marchi and Frank Nutile.

In Russo, the Owls not only have their highest-ranked quarterback recruit since Ron Dickerson was able to convince Kevin Harvey to take his Parade All-American certificate to Temple, but one of the top three recruits of any school from one of the three big Philadelphia City Leagues. Russo has a better pedigree that even a couple of NFL MVPs, Rich Gannon (St. Joseph’s Prep, Delaware) and Matty Ryan (Penn Charter, Boston College). Both Gannon and Ryan had 20 touchdown passes in their final year of high school play; Russo had 35. Same level of competition.

The Owls could go to Nutile, a game manager type who was nowhere near as effective a high school quarterback as Russo.

The appeal of Marchi is that he has the mobility none of the other three have and he’s a year farther along than Russo. Given offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude’s stated fondness for a dual threat quarterback, Marchi might be the slight clubhouse leader at this point.

Collins and Patenaude will kick these cans down the interstate as long as they can, but somewhere between here and South Bend they will have to settle on one. Right now, they would prefer one of the guys to be so much better than the other three that the player, not the coach, decides.

That’s what summer practice is for but it’s also to make the tough coaching calls if a player doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity.

Friday: Class Warfare

Monday: House Money

 

 

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

This Year’s Slogan

projectmayhem

No one has confirmed anything about it yet, but after “Leave No Doubt” and “Unfinished Business” were such a success, the hunt for a new slogan may be over.

Right there on a shirt Geoff Collins wore were two simple words with a double entendre: Project Mayhem.

If the powers that be are still looking around for something catchy, Collins may have either stumbled upon it or developed it by stroke of inspiration, if not genius.

Leave No Doubt made its mark because it was born out of Kenny Harper’s heartfelt speech to the team at the end of the 6-6 season. Many people thought the Owls deserved to make a bowl off that 2014 season, but it turns out they were one of four 6-6 teams left off the bowl list.

Harper’s departing words speaking to the juniors were: “Next year, leave no doubt.”

Leave No Doubt became the slogan and it led to a 7-0 start, a win over Penn State and a Game Day appearance with visiting Notre Dame.

That was tough to top but “Unfinished Business” was born out of reaching the AAC title game, but losing it to Houston on the road.

Thus, “Unfinished Business” was a natural follow-up to “Leave No Doubt.”

Those slogans produced a pair of 10-win seasons and projected progress.

For the Owls to progress this season, they would have to slip through the head of a very small needle—winning the AAC again and THEN winning a bowl game. That’s really the only way this season would be considered better than the last two.

Since “Let’s Win The Title and Top That Off With a Bowl Win” is too cumbersome a slogan to fit on a T-Shirt, I’ll take what Collins was wearing the other day.

Project Mayhem.

Project (noun) Mayhem in that this new philosophy is a project that could be worthy of entertainment dollars and Project (verb) Mayhem as in project Mayhem on the opposition, especially on defense, resulting in sacks and turnovers.

If both lead to the more cumbersome slogan becoming a reality, then Project Mayhem will be as hard to top as Leave No Doubt and Unfinished Business were.

Monday: The Newest Additions

Wednesday: Summer Practice

Friday: Comparing The Classes

 

Perspective: They’re Back!

 

Incoming freshman first days have come a long way from the days when they piled all of the football players into the basement at Peabody Hall.

Now the freshmen come into Morgan Hall, which is about as upscale an experience for a perspective recruit as there is in the country. Instead of keys, the players are given swipe cards. Instead of a view of an alley, they get to see perhaps one of the best views of Center City Philadelphia anywhere. They will go to school in an exciting, vibrant, city, playing for a name that is now respected nationally.

newmeet

Workout this morning at The Art Museum

This past weekend was the first for the 2017 true freshmen, many of whom will be redshirted. The “jewel” of the class has already been here for awhile, Dwyer (Fla.) High Toddy Centeio, who was a mid-year enrollee. It would only be a mild surprise to see Todd play a lot this year, not a major one. He performed pretty much as well as the other three quarterbacks vying for the job.

Some things change, some remain the same.

The parents still come and go and there are bags of stuff to haul through the dorms and hugs and goodbyes.

Other than that, though, it’s a whole different ballgame.

Temple players live in a state-of-the-art high rise and practice in a state-of-the-art $17 million practice facility.

It’s a long way from the days of Peabody Hall and the “largest Astroturf field in the world” (Geasey Field) in which to practice or the days when the “weight room” was located in the basement of McGonigle Hall next to the bowling alley.

Somehow, the kids of Wayne Hardin’s and Bruce Arians’ days overcame facilities and brutal schedules and won a “fair share” of games.

The kids today have it a little better, both facility wise and schedule wise.

When it comes to perspective and how they have done and how they are expected to do, it’s important to have those two items in mind.

Friday: The New Slogan

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