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.

recruitingsnip

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?

Advertisements

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

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

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

Sweet Home Recruiting

alabama

There’s three seasons of Temple football, the fall, the spring and recruiting.

Temple did well in one, not so well in another and the jury is out on the third.

Of course, the most important season is the fall but without the other two there can be no tangible success. The jury is always out on the spring, because that’s always the good guys versus the good guys. For the elation of every great touchdown class in the spring, there’s the nagging thought that maybe the secondary is not as good as advertised. That happens every year.

Now we’re in recruiting season.

So maybe that’s why it was heartening to hear that Geoff Collins sent some of his staff down to Alabama for a recruiting seminar.

A lot of people among us felt that the Owls should have had a better recruiting season off an AAC championship, even with a new coaching staff. There was enough evidence to support that theory as Al Golden, Steve Addazio and Matt Rhule all had significantly higher-rated recruiting classes in their transition years than Collins did in his.

There was definitely the term “mailing it in” used on the recruiting effort of this staff and it’s hard to defend against it. It certainly seemed like that from my perspective, considering a new coaching staff without a lot of local ties would “settle” for not building a long-term foundation and instead look to live off Rhule’s recruits and move on to the next job.

It’s hard to scrub that image from the minds of a lot of Temple fans, including me. A top-rated AAC class in 2018 would erase that perception but we are not off to a good start.

aacrecruits

That’s why they have to get their act in gear for the season that takes place most of the summer.

Maybe going down to Alabama to listen to what Nick Saban has to say will help, but probably some good old-fashioned hustle and shoe-leather might do more good.

“I’d like to welcome our group from Temple,” we can only imagine hearing Saban say. “The best advice I have to improve your recruiting is to get in the SEC, play all of your games on Saturday and pack the house.”

Golden did it by coming to Temple with built-in relationships with high schools within the recruiting focus area and Rhule did it by enhancing those relationships. Maybe after listening to Saban, picking up the phone and calling Al or Matt might be worth the dime.

Friday: Fizzy’s Corner Returns

Monday: Sustainability

Recruiting Season Could Provide Clues

quincy

Tom Pajic leaves the relative quiet of Quincy for 10th and Diamond.

If anything, the newest hire of Geoff Collins provides some needed insurance.

Tom Pajic (which looks like it might be pronounced paycheck but really is pronounced PAH-CHICK) gives the Owls one more guy who has head coaching experience and, the way these AAC coaches fall by the wayside every season, that’s a nice policy.


Of course, the hope here
is that Collins wins the
AAC and gets to coach in
the bowl game, which he
also wins, and decides
Temple is the long-term
place for him

Never mind that the head coaching came at Division II-level Quincy (Ill.) for the last five years, this is another guy who has some experience of what to do with the clipboard in his hands. Given what Ed Foley did and did not do at the Military Bowl, maybe Pajic gets the chance to be head coach in the next bowl game. Not that Pajic is Vince Lombardi, but he and Wayne Hardin do have something in common: They have both beaten Drake as head coaches. The Drake team that Hardin beat in 1979, 43-22, was no slouch, though, having beaten Colorado State that same season. Pajic went 20-34 at Quincy, which is about the same amount of success Foley had as a head coach at Fordham (7-15). Interestingly enough, the guy who preceded Pajic at Quincy also went 20-34 before ending his tenure there.

Who would I have rather hired for this spot? Hmm. Al Golden might have been a good choice, but he is way above Temple’s pay grade. A better choice would have been current Baylor DB coach Francis Brown, but Temple  probably couldn’t afford him, either. Collins is the Godfather to Brown’s son, so maybe he’s a guy to keep an eye on in the future for a spot here.

Of course, the hope here is that Collins wins the AAC and gets to coach in the bowl game, which he also wins, and decides Temple is the long-term place for him. Hope and history, though, rarely jive in a league where Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo is the longest-tenured head coach.

There is at least a little irony is the new position, Director of Player Personnel, for Pajic because how he and Collins do as a recruiting team will telegraph Collins’ long-term intentions toward Temple. If the Owls finish again in the 100s—they were ranked No. 127 in recruiting by Scout.com in this February’s class—it is a sign that Collins has one eye on the exit door at the E-O.

If, however, Collins and Pajic can pull in a respectable class—say, for sake of argument in the 50s, not 120s—then the Collins will be following the plan promised by Al Golden to build a house of brick, not straw. Say what you will about Golden, but he gave the uni a great five years and left the program in great shape in terms of players. Matt Rhule did pretty much the same. Golden, Rhule and even Steve Addazio had classes ranked in the 50s so that’s not an unattainable goal at Temple. One-hundred-and-27 is unacceptable off an AAC title, even given a month to recruit.

The Owls had three players drafted in the first five rounds of the NFL draft and that should mean something to top-notch recruits. Between now and the start of summer practice, Pajic and Collins are on the clock and Temple fans should be paying attention.

Monday: Above The Line