Looking for energy? You got it here in the final edition of the SportsDesk for the 2016-2017 school year. In his debut, Brian Roche recaps the three Temple selections in the 2017 NFL Draft, as well as the six others who went on to sign unrestricted free agent deals with NFL teams. You won’t want to miss the SportsDesk’s top 5 athletes of the year, and much more. Make sure to keep with the SportDesk all summer for lots of football coverage here on TempleUpdate.com, and on Twitter at @TU_SportsDesk.
It was a night to remember for former walk-on Haason Reddick, who with the 13th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft was selected by the Arizona Cardinals. He’ll join former Temple coach Bruce Arians and a team who’s accrued 10 wins in three of the last four seasons. Reddick was the fourth ever Temple first-round pick, and his #13 selection is the second highest in program history.
This past season, the Camden native led the country in tackles for loss with 22.5, and his 10 sacks was second in the American Athletic Conference. With 46 tackles for loss in his career, that’s good enough for second all-time at both Temple and in the AAC.
As you can imagine Reddick was all smiles all night, starting with the pre-draft festivities on the iconic NFL Draft red carpet. Accompanied by his mother and father, he told OwlSportsUpdate’s Jared Phillips during his celebrity strut, “It’s great man, the environment, the feel, the crowd- when I came out it was beautiful and where we’re at right now is a beautiful thing.”
When Reddick was asked about if he expected all of this this when he came to Temple his response was special. “Someone told me a couple days ago that dreams do come true.”
He’s been living this dream now for the past couple of weeks. Guest appearing on shows on NFL Network, ESPN and FoxSports to name a few, he has been elevating his status before he was called to walk across the stage in his college city of Philadelphia. He also received “The Key to the City” of Camden in a ceremony on the Camden Battleship earlier this week- and just three days later, he shook NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand for a national audience to see.
Reddick is the highest former walk-on selected in the NFL Draft since 2011 when Detroit selected BYU’s Ziggy Ansah with the fifth pick. Other notable former walk-ons are Texans’ J.J. Watt and Packers’ Clay Matthews.
The full first round shaped out like this:
1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garret, DE (Texas A&M)
2. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB (North Carolina)
3. San Francisco 49ers- Soloman Thomas, DE (Stanford)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB (LSU)
Temple University’s record 4 players at the 2017 NFL combine put on quite the performance this past week. Headlined by DE/LB Haason Reddick and OL Dion Dawkins, the duo successfully elevated their NFL draft stock on the biggest stage. CB Nate Hairston and RB Jahad Thomas rounded out the Owls’ participants, and they will both hope to remain in the first 7 round conversation to NFL scouts.
Reddick finished among the top three at his position group in three events: the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump. Haason Reddick’s 4.52 40 is fourth-fastest in last 10 combines at his position, and it makes him the fastest Temple participant of this year (over Thomas and Hairston). A 4.52 40 is faster than current NFL superstars Le’veon Bell, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown.
In addition, Reddick had the longest broad jump at the combine (since 2003) by a defensive linemen.
Bleacher Report released an article on Monday naming Reddick as the top linebacker in the draft. That is serious praise for this past season’s AAC leader in TFLs, and he will likely find himself off of the big board fairly quickly come draft day in in April on Ben Franklin Parkway. “As a result, the former walk-on is now in position to become a potential top-15 selection.”
Dawkins received 10th best NFL.com Offensive Line grade, a graded total factoring all of the combine measurables in one score. The first team All-Conference LT ran the 2nd fastest 3 cone drill time among offensive lineman. Dawkins is still retaining his draft status somewhere in the mid second round area.
NFL.com added this about Dawkins’ current draft stock:
“Quality tackle who operates with good balance and solid technique. Shows some good initial quickness and a smooth kick-slide out of his stance, but might be better in short areas as a guard rather than in open space as a tackle. He’s athletic enough to operate in space, but power appears to be his calling card. His wide-hand approach in pass protection could be a difficult habit to break, but he has the natural power to withstand bull rush that might come with that. Dawkins is a well-schooled, three-year starter who has chance to transition into an early starter.”
Thomas’ performance at the combine didn’t exactly wow NFL scouts at the combine, and none of the 2nd leading scorer in conference combine test results landed in the top-10 of 2017 RBs. This is the same player who came into the NCAA with as an underdog without many other big time division 1 offers (Boston College, Monmouth).
According to NFL.com here is the low-down on his draft value as of today:
“Productive running back lacking in NFL-caliber size and strength but who makes up for it with his quickness and ability to help as a pass catcher and return man. While it’s hard to imagine him handling more than just a few carries per game as an NFL runner, his roster flexibility could work in his advantage. With his ability to operate from the slot and as a jet-sweep runner, he could be an interesting toy for a creative play-caller.”
Hairston was recruited as a wide receiver, and even logged offensive snaps under coach Matt Rhule for two seasons before converting to defense his junior year. The Frederick, MD native’s 4.53 40-yard dash was 8th best for a corner. Hairston’s quality performance in the East-West shrine game brought attention to in-game impact of the CB, but NFL scouts are uneasy with the low targets Hairston received from opposing QB’s during the Owl’s 2016 championship season.
NFL.com pegged Hairston’s bottom line as the following:
Raw but very moldable prospect. Hairston shows good awareness from zone and his physical style and willingness to come tackle make him an immediate fit for primarily zone cover teams. However he may have the tools to eventually become a solid bump-and-run cornerback as he becomes more experienced at the position. Hairston is a projection-based talent who should become a much better player in two years than he is today.”
As signing day has came and went on North Broad street, Temple Football has welcomed Mike Jones of North Carolina Central, and 16 high school athletes to the team. Headlined by three 3-star talents, Geoff Collins has done what he can in his first year, in a quick turnaround recruiting process for the Temple coaching staff. Meet your new faces for the Owls:
QB Todd Centeio [6’1” 205lbs] – West Palm Beach (FL)
Centeio is one of two recruits who is currently enrolled at Temple and has started taking classes as a freshman. Centeio is a pro-style quarterback who threw for 2,344 yards and 31 touchdowns his senior season at William T. Dwyer under head coach Ron Jack Daniels. The poised passer was a Lou Groza award finalist, as well as a two-time Sun Sentinel Super 11 pick. Other notable offers: Miami (FL), Nebraska, NC State.
OL Griffin Sestili [6’3” 260lbs] – North Allegheny (PA)
A versatile lineman on the offense, Sestili played tight end and racked up 12 catches for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns during his high school career. Earned first-team all conference honors as a senior. Other notable offers: Pitt, West Virginia, Virginia.
DL Malik Burns [6’2” 220lbs] – Lackey (MD)
Arguably the most decorated of all 16 high school recruits signed by the Owls, Malik Burns was the 2016 All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference most outstanding player. In addition, Burns was an all-conference selection at 2 positions (DE,RB) his senior year, and all county player of the year. Had 68 tackles senior year including 4 fumble recoveries. As a running back, rushed for the most yards in the state of Maryland in 2016 with 2,290 yards and 26 touchdowns. Shares the same high school as current Owl Cortrelle Simpson. Other notable offers: Toledo, Monmouth, East Carolina.
WR LJ Holder [6’3″ 205lbs] – Manalapan (NJ)
Played wide receiver for an 11-1, NJSIAA CJG5 championship runner up Manalapan High School Braves. Ranked #10 on the Super 60 Shore Conference recruits in the 2017 class. Compiled 644 yards and 9 touchdowns over his junior and senior seasons.
DE Arnold Ebiketie [6’4” 205lbs] – Albert Einstein (MD)
A three sport athlete at Albert Einstein high school, Arnold Ebiketie played linebacker and wide receiver, and earned co-defensive player of the year for his 21.5 sack, 36 TFL performance his senior year. Also caught 3 touchdowns for 298 yards as wide out.
TE/DE Emil Moody [6’5” 210lbs] – Neumann-Goretti (PA)
A local pick up for the Owls, Emil Moody set a school season record with 17 sacks, also led his team in receiving in both his junior and senior seasons. A player with experience on both sides of the ball, coach Geoff Collins stressed the importance of position flexibility.
DB Dearage ‘Ty’ Mason [5’10” 170lbs] – Blake (MD)
A national record holder in the track and field long jump at indoor nationals with a jump of 23’5, Ty Mason finished his senior year with 8 interceptions and 36 solo tackles for coach DeShawn Anderson at James Hubert Blake High School. Was selected to compete in the 2016 Maryland Crab Bowl, also chosen to the All-MOCO and All-Met football teams. Will join a deep secondary unit that led the conference in pass defense last season.
LB Audley Isaacs [6’1” 210lbs ]- Valley Forge Military Academy
Another local pickup for the Owls, Audley Isaacs played running back and linebacker at Valley Forge Military Academy. During his senior season, selected to the all Southeastern Pa. team at linebacker. Tallied 133 tackles to go along with 1,123 rushing yards in 2016. Selected to the Blue-Gray Regional combine.
WR Jadan Blue [5’11” 175lbs] – Peddie Prep (NJ)
The third Maryland recruit on the list, Jadan Blue played wide receiver and defensive back at Peddie Prep High in Hightstown, New Jersey. Blue finished his senior season with first team honors at receiver in both his conference and the Mid-Atlantic Prep League. Blue played just 5 games and tallied 23 catches for 457 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns in 2016.
DL Ifeanyi Maijeh [6’2” 260lbs] – Poly Prep (NY)
A quarterback’s terror from the Big Apple, Ifeanyi Maijeh was named defensive MVP of the Ivy League conference his senior season, as well as being named first-team all city. Led his team with 9 sacks in 2016 and 7 TFL.
DB/WR Collin Washington [6’0” 170lbs] – Central (PA)
The city’s very own, Collin Washington played wide receiver for for Temple WR Rich Drayton of Central High. Also competed in track and field, and was part of first place 4×400 relay team at the Penn Relays during the 2016 outdoor season.
OL James Makszin [6’4″ 285lbs] – Norwalk (CT)
The biggest of the 2017 recruiting class, James Makslin played offense and defensive lines and was named to the Walter Camp all-state first-team for offense in 2016. Also New Haven Register all-state first-team, CHCSA all-state, and All-Connecticut Region first team for defensive line.
DB Christian Braswell [5’10” 160lbs] – Friendship Collegiate Academy (DC)
An addition from the state capital, Christian Braswell led his team to first DCSAA Class 2A title since 2012. Played wide receiver and defensive back, earning 2016All-USA D.C honors in 2016 at DB. Also named to the 2016 Senior Under Armour elite 100 that honors the top high school players in D.C and Maryland.
WR Jeremy Jennings [5’10″ 180lbs] – Downingtown (PA)
Coach Geoff Collins noted the special presence that is Jeremy Jennings in his press conference yesterday, and the 3-year starter at receiver has a record of 34-9 at Downingtown East High under head coach Michael Matta. Hauled in 45 catches for 480 yards and 8 touchdowns his senior season. Also a track and field athlete.
LB Casey Williams [6’3” 220lbs] – South Philadelphia (PA)
Another running back and linebacker duo to add to Taver Johnson’s first year defensive unit, Casey Williams was selected to play in the Philadelphia City all-star game, where he then recorded 15 tackles and 2 rushing touchdowns. Played in just 4 games during his senior season.
Just one day before the NCAA’s February 1st signing day, head coach Geoff Collins and Temple Football added a decorated cornerback and return man to the program. Mike Jones, a native of Baltimore, Maryland- has 11 career INTs and over 600 punt return yards in his 3 seasons at North Carolina Central. In 2016, the team won the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference championship, while Jones was an All-MEAC selection at defensive back.
Jones announced he was leaving NC Central via his Instagram page in December 2016.
With plenty of success in the Mid-East Atlantic Conference also came with NFL draft possibilities. Entering this past bowl season, ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay said Jones “stands out to me as the best” of a list of late round draft choices. Instead of declaring for the 2017 NFL draft- Jones chose to play for Taver Johnson’s defense under Geoff Collins.
Temple’s defense graduated starting cornerback Nate Hairston after last season, and Jones will be primed to step into a starting role. Complete the secondary with safeties Sean Chandler and Delvon Randall, an opposing cornerback slot will be open for competition in the spring and summer- likely to be last year’s starter Artrel Foster. The unit that last year led the AAC in pass defense, and ranked nationally in opposing total pass yards per game allowed (150.2) and touchdowns allowed (13).
In 2016, Jones made 30 tackles and had two interceptions and five pass break-ups. As a returner, he averaged 22.0 yards per punt return with two touchdowns.
Temple Football received a startling blow this morning.
Three days after his team beat #19 Navy and claimed the AAC Championship, news broke this morning that Head Coach Matt Rhule had accepted a head coaching job at Baylor University. He will be taking over a program riddled with controversy the team’s handling of sexual assault cases with its players. Last May, Baylor fired head coach Art Briles in wake of the sexual assault scandal.
The Baylor Bears went 6-6 this season under acting head coach Jim Grobe, but Grobe will step down after Baylor’s game against Boise State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl in December 27th.
Rhule had a 28-23 record during his tenure and led the Owls to their first major conference title since 1967. The Owls have won 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history.
Rhule was at the helm of the program’s resurgent resurrection. The first year at the helm in 2013, Rhule’s team went 2-10, including a heartbreaking loss to Fordham on a last second heave. Rhule constantly refers to that game as one of the turning points for the program and its players. The Owls improved to 6-6 in 2014, and then made a monumental leap the next year. In 2015, Rhule led the team to a win over Penn State for the first time in 74 years, a near upset of #9 Notre Dame ABC’s primetime game of the week, and a 10-2 record and a birth in the conference title game.
This season the Owls had made some serious noise lately as they are currently riding a 7 game winning streak, which includes a AAC Championship win against then ranked #19 Navy Midshipmen. The Owls are ranked #24 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings.
Matt Rhule will not be coaching the Owls in their game against Wake Forest in the Military Bowl.
Temple assistant coach Ed Foley has been named the team’s interim head coach. Foley has coached at Temple for nine seasons and has held a variety of different positions. The interim coach has been the assistant head coach, tight ends coach, special teams cooridinator, Director of Football Operations, assistant offensive line coach, and a recruiting coordinator throughout his nine seasons. Foley has now endured three coaches in his tenure- as he was hired under Al Golden, around for Steve Addazio who left to accept a job with Boston College after two seasons, and of course Matt Rhule.
The Baylor Football website posted the following quote from Rhule, “I am truly honored and humbled to join the Baylor Family,” said Rhule, “and I can’t thank President Garland and Mack Rhoades enough for this incredible opportunity. Baylor is a tremendous institution with a history of football success and I know the passion that so many have for the Bears will help bring the community together to reach even greater heights. I am excited to get started.”
Director of Athletics Patrick M. Kraft spoke in front of the media at 1:30 this afternoon.
Kraft stated that “we have not gotten to that yet.” when he was asked if Rhule’s assistants would be going with him to Texas.
As far as the new head coaching search, Kraft gave no specific timetable.
“We are going to go out and get the best person for the job to continue this momentum.” said Kraft.
The Temple Football head coaching job is a more desirable job than it was four years ago when the Owls were among the worst in the college football. Patrick Kraft seemed excited during the press conference and willing to accept the challenge of finding a new coach. He wants to find the right person for the job more importantly and noted “this is not just an X’s and O’s job” as there are many factors to consider other than football.
Matt Rhule became Temple’s first coach with consecutive 10-win seasons as Temple stunned the prolific Navy rushing offense on Saturday, 34-10. The Owls hoisted the American Athletic Conference championship trophy on Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the first time, and with selection Sunday just a day away- the team should receive a huge boost in favoribility from this convincing win.
Temple’s offense set the tone early on as the game’s most outstanding player Phillip Walker orchestrated a 12 play, 75 yard drive that knocked over 5 minutes off of the game clock on the Owls opening drive. It was the 8th straight game Navy allowed an opening drive touchdown, and Walker wasn’t done there. The senior went on to cap the Owls next two drives with touchdowns- both through the air, one to Ventell Bryant and one to Keith Kirkwood.
Just like that the Owls were leading 21-0.
With a lull in production and a scoreless 3rd quarter for the Owls, the team needed a big showing from the counterparts on the other side of the ball to stay in contention.
The Owls defense did exactly that. Phil Snow’s unit came well prepared to deal with the triple option attack of Navy averaging 342 yards a game, and they held the midshipmen to just 168 yards. Will Worth left the game for good early in the second quarter, and the Navy offense had extreme trouble moving the ball effectively. Backup QB Zach Abey rushed for 111 yards just a week ago in his first action of the year, and it was his duty to keep pace against a red hot Temple defense.
A defense that played the Midshipmen like very few teams have this season, holding the unit to season-lows in points and 3rd down percentage. Navy came into the game averaging over 40 points per game, and were converting a nations best 57% of 3rd downs. With noticeable confusion for most of the team’s pivotal plays, Temple forced Navy to a 43% (6 of 14) mark on 3rd down.
Before the game, it was a projected battle of time of possession, and ultimately the edge went to Temple. In particular, Temple’s 4th quarter drive of a whopping 7:01 ended with freshman walk-on Aaron Boumerhi’s most important field goal of the season, which deflated a once jovial crowd in Annapolis and extended Temple’s lead to 27-10.
The Owls were able to keep possession through 3 turnovers from the defense, exceptional play from the duo of Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Amstead- who scored 2 touchdowns combined in addition to 136 yards.
As Rhule made history for himself at Temple University, the Owls managed to elevate their status in collegiate football. Be sure to stay with the SportsDesk for selection Sunday to be filled in on exactly where the Owls will be continuing their historic season.
Temple Football (9-3, 7-1) is set to go to battle against #19 Navy (9-2, 7-1) on Saturday, as they will travel just south to Annapolis, Maryland. Kickoff is set for noon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, and the action will be nationally televised on ABC.
Headlining the show on the gridiron will be Navy’s esteemed rushing attack ranked second in college football, matched with a stingy Temple defense that has shut out 3 teams in its past 10 games. A win for the Midshipmen would mark its first conference championship in its 136-year history- being that the team was independent before joining the AAC last season.
The visiting Temple Owls come into the game with a lot of program firsts on the season. Temple has won a program record 19 games in its past two seasons, and the unit is headed to consecutive bowl games for the first time. Matt Rhule will be looking to win his 10th game of the season for a second straight year- and in doing so he’ll break yet another program record, as no coach in Temple history has won 10 games in back to back seasons.
The Owls will also be riding a 6-game win streak into Saturday, and the team has done most of their damage to opposing teams this season on the defensive side of the ball. Phil Snow’s defense has held all but 2 quarterbacks they’ve faced under 200 yards passing- averaging 145.8 yards per game, which is good for 2nd in the NCAA behind only Michigan. As far as total defense, the Owls rank 3rd nationally- allowing a measly 273.4 yards of opposing offense per game.
Navy is averaging 470 yards of offense per game, and they’ve tallied over 500 yards in 5 of their last 6 games. There has simply been no stopping this offense in 2016. Navy scored 75 points last week vs. SMU, and 66 the week before that- they seem to be seriously rolling at the wrong time for Temple.
Quarterback Will Worth has been sensational for the Midshipmen this season, tallying a total of 25 touchdowns in the team’s 11 games. Worth is the same player who spent the entirety of last season as the holder for the Midshipmen, and spent this past summer leading in to the current season taking second-team reps at QB behind fellow senior Tago Smith. That was until Navy’s Week 1 victory over Fordham, Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury which granted the reigns to Worth- the 6’1″ 210 pound former high school linebacker.
Worth has rushed for over 100 yards in 7 straight games for the Midshipmen- a U.S Naval Academy program record. In addition, he’s rushed for at least one touchdown in all 11 games he’s played in this season which is good for second best in program history. At the helm of that record is last year’s sensation at quarterback for Navy- Keenan Reynolds. Reynolds scored in 14 straight games during a two year span, something senior Worth will not have the luxury of doing.
When comparing stats, both Worth and Reynolds posted very similar single-season statistics running the triple option offense. Worth has already surpassed Reynolds in the passing yard department, with 1,363 yards- including 8 touchdowns. As far as rushing, Worth ranks 4th in the AAC in yards with 1,181 and 25 touchdowns. Only 3 other quarterbacks in college football history have scored more rushing touchdowns, one of them being Reynolds.
Trying to score points for Temple to counter the scoring of the Midshipmen will be an offense led by two seniors, and former high school teammates, QB Phillip Walker and HB Jahad Thomas. Read a profile on the duo here. The two have powered a unit that has averaged 440 yards of offense per game during their 6-game win streak, and has largely gone under the radar due to the Owls stellar defense. Something to note however:
Phillip Walker has been in a walking boot, nursing his ankle, since the team won against East Carolina on Saturday although he is still expected to play. Matt Rhule said in his press conference he didn’t know the status of sophomore RB Ryquell Armstead- which puts more opportunity in the hands of Jahad Thomas. Thomas and Amstead have combined for 31 of the Owls 47 touchdowns this season.
The offense from the visiting team should keep rolling on Saturday, as the Navy defense has not been much to boast about this season.
The Midshipmen defense is allowing just over 30 points per game, including 440 yards per game of opposing offense, which ranks 8th (of 12) in the AAC. A majority of the hurt from the unit has came in the air- as opposing quarterbacks are averaging 265 yards passing per game.
With the Navy’s offensive attack against a rolling Temple defense- expect both teams to come out looking to make a statement, with serious bowl game implications on the line.
Temple Football will face Navy on Saturday and the defensive unit for the Owls has been a crucial factor in their current 6-game win streak. Highlighted by two shutouts, the unit ranks 3rd in the nation in total yards allowed per game on the season. See how seniors on the defense plan to stop a Navy offense that’s scored 141 points in its past two games.
Following Temple Football’s Week 6 conference loss to Memphis, the Owls sat at 3-3 on the season, and still had 6 more games that were must win games if they wanted any chance at an AAC Championship game. The question looming was largely, where does this team go now?
That answer never meant anything to this unit. They went on to win all 6 of those games, with an astounding +115 point differential, and they earned a spot to play on national television against Navy on Saturday in the American Athletic Championship game on Saturday. In the Owls week 12 victory East Carolina, they hoisted the AAC East division title for the second straight season on Lincoln Financial Field.
Watch the SportsDesk’s 10-minute recap of Matt Rhule’s unit and their journey they took to reach the coveted championship game in 2016.