Impact Player #3: Delvon Randall & The Secondary

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Delvon Randall will head into his second season as starter with veteran status on Temple’s defense. // Credit: Getty Images

Moving on to number three in our impact players list for Temple football in 2017- we look at strong safety Delvon Randall. There is definitely controversy on this pick- not from the position group, but which of the players in the secondary to choose. My take is, you can choose any of the four, probably starting with Sean Chandler, and you can’t go wrong. Corners Artrel Foster and new transfer Mike Jones is as strong of corner duo the Owls have had in the Rhule era, and that will make the jobs of the safeties even easier. Throw in the fact both safeties Randall and Chandler have another year starting under their belt; let’s just say quarterbacks will have problems against this unit.

The most popular pick of the group would probably be Sean Chandler. The guy who’s starting for his fourth straight season (despite a lagging knee injury last season), the guy who’s on four preseason award watch lists, and the same guy who was arguably second in MVP voting in the conference championship victory last season behind Phillip Walker. Not him.

Then, we examine the corners. Two fifth-year seniors with plenty of game experience. Look at returning senior Artrel Foster who started in 12 of his 13 contests last season alongside current Indianapolis Colt Nate Hairston. On the 2016 secondary that finished third in the country in opposing pass yards per game. Now see Mike Jones, a player who came to Temple with Geoff Collins this season looking to maximize his value on his fifth year of eligibility. Had Jones declared for this year’s draft in Philly, he was a likely 5-7 round pick at corner according to cbssports.com. It seems as though he’s shooting bigger. As havoc-wreaking as this duo will be come gamedays, they are still not the most impactful players on this secondary.

Delvon Randall (23) celebrates with wide receiver Ventell Bryant (1) and Nate Hairston (15) after a turnover in the AAC Championship game. // Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
We finally turn to newly awarded single-digit tough, #2 Delvon Randall. A guy who skyrocketed up the depth chart in just his sophomore season last year, emerging early as the starting strong safety on Temple football’s conference champion defense for all 14 games. The guy who the SportsDesk decided will have the most impact on this season among the secondary.
Reasons being:
Randall was the most consistent of Temple’s efficient pass defense last season, and he didn’t miss a college game in just his second year out of high school. Revisiting last years stats- he was 3rd in the AAC with 6 takeways (4 INT, 2 FF). Had crucial fumble recoveries at Penn State and Cincinnati, and also tied Haason Reddick for second most tackles on the team (65) for the season. You can watch Randall’s impact in both the pass and run game in this video made by Temple linebacker Jeremiah Atoki from the 2016 season:

Anyone can see from last year’s stats how involved Randall is on the football field, and he will be put to work this season. Ultimately, it seems as though he will be tested the most in the position he’s in- making him a safe pick in this year’s senior-laden secondary. All three of the seniors on this year’s group have their eyes on the NFL after the season ends and Randall looks to be headed on that same path. There’s an opportunity for the Temple secondary to have all future NFL defensive backs starting on one unit, which is pretty notable for a non power-5 program.
Side Note: Let’s not forget- a good pass rush is a forgotten part of a secondary’s success, and something the Owls have been blessed with in recent years. Haason Reddick and Praise Martin-Oguike are in the NFL, Avery Ellis is in the CFL, and this year’s defensive line will have to rely on some familiar program names to step up. Sharif Finch and Jacob Martin are both back looking healthy on the ends, and Michael Dogbe will be looking for some tenacious company at DT in order for the unit to keep producing this season.

SportsDesk Impact Player #4: RT Leon Johnson

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Credit: The Temple News
Continuing our top-5 count down, our 4th most influential Temple Owl of 2017 is redshirt senior right tackle Leon Johnson. Johnson recently represented the Owls in Newport, RI for the American Conference Media Day, and he’s poised to lead an offensive line unit who will have a major impact on the success of this team. Johnson has appeared in 32 games on the offensive line in his first three seasons, including 26 starts. He’s coming off of a 2016 season where he started all 14 games, producing the only pair of rushers with 800 yards and 12 TDs each (Jahad Thomas & Ryquell Amstead).
Johnson (left) joined Nick Sharga, Keith Kirkwood and Sharif Finch for AAC media day. //
Credit: Twitter

He’ll bring the most game experience to this offensive line, making him the most impactful of the group. In most cases, the left tackle is the overall best lineman on a given football team (take last year’s Dion Dawkins for example), but the reasoning in this case for most impactful relies on the expected boost in rushing offense, and slight drop off in passing. That of course has to do with the first year starter at quarterback, and with Johnson on the strong side of the line, he will be propelling the run game most often. Without a productive offensive line to help ease in a quarterback, the Owls will most certainly take a big step back from last year’s 7-1 conference record and AAC Championship. This unit however, seems on paper like they can handle the pressure.

If the season started today, the Offensive Line would look like this:
LT Cole Boozer, LG Johvann Fair, C Matt Hennessy, RG Adrian Sullivan, RT Leon Johnson.

The right side of the line will be a scary sight in Johnson and Sullivan, who have a combined 40 starts. Sullivan, another redshirt senior, also started all 14 games last season. On the other side redshirt senior Cole Boozer will be interesting to figure out this season, as he is a converted tight end who made the switch to offensive line last season. Boozer’s 6-5 275 lb frame is at his advantage, and he spent last season as the primary backup to all-conference LT Dion Dawkins. At center and left guard are two promising talents in redshirt freshman Matt Hennessy (Don Bosco Prep) and redshirt sophomore Jovahn Fair. Unlike Hennessy, Fair saw action in every game last season, starting in all but 1. Hennessy will get his first taste of college football after a redshirt season with loads of positive praise surrounding him.

Credit: Philly.com
Here’s Leon Johnson “Mic’d up” courtesy of Temple Athletics from last season’s training camp.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday where we continue our top-5 countdown and release the SportsDesk’s #3 most impactful player of 2017. 

Obi Enechionyia Declared for NBA Draft

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Obi Enechionyia declared for the NBA draft Wednesday, but did not hire an agent.

This gives Obi the opportunity to test the waters in the draft, and see what his stock is for this year’s draft. He has up until 10 days after the combine in mid-May to withdraw his name from the draft. If he doesn’t withdraw his name at this point, he will no longer be eligible to come back to Temple for his senior season. Also, if Obi does hire an agent, he loses eligibility for his senior season, no matter if he withdraws his name.

Obi averaged 13.1 points per game, five rebounds, and 1.5 blocks last season. All three were the highest averages of his career. He drew a lot of attention early in the season, as he averaged over 20 points per game in the first two weeks. And I think we all remember that St. Joe’s game when he took over and put up 26 points and shot 50% from the three point line. He scored 20 points just once throughout the rest of the season in the AAC tournament a couple weeks ago against ECU.

He has a just about a month and a half to decide as to whether he will return to North Broad for his senior season and help the Owls attempt to get back to the NCAA tournament. It will be interesting to see how he measures up as a big man that can get out and shoot in a guard-heavy draft.

O’Connor Irish Update: Notre Dame at a Glance

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After a disappointing 2016 season which resulted in a 4-8 record, Notre Dame will be looking for a bounce back season beginning on September 2nd, against Temple.

Amid the uncertainty surrounding the Fighting Irish in the offseason, the team made the choice to bring back Brian Kelly in what will be his eighth season as head coach of Notre Dame. Kelly has had success with the program, posing a 59-31 record as head coach, which includes a 2013 national championship appearance. Kelly will look to provide stability to the Fighting Irish this season.

Perhaps the biggest position to be filled for Notre Dame is quarterback. The Fighting Irish will enter the season having seen DeShone Kizer taken 52nd overall in the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. Kizer threw for almost 6,000 yards in his Notre Dame career, to go along with 47 touchdowns, and only 19 interceptions in his two seasons as the starting quarterback.

Enter Brandon Wimbush, the 6-2, 228 lb. junior who will take over as the Irish starting quarterback in 2017. Wimbush was rated as a four star recruit coming out of high school by 247sports, and had offers from Penn State, Ohio State, and Alabama among other teams before committing to Notre Dame.

Wimbush has played in just two games in his career with the Fighting Irish, both in 2015 as a freshman against Umass, and Pittsburgh. Wimbush completed the most passes of any quarterback in the state of New Jersey in his senior season, with 192 completions. He threw for 3,187 yards as a senior, with 37 touchdowns, and just four interceptions. Wimbush will look to continue to lead a passing offense that ranked in the top 50 in the nation in 2016.

    The 6-2 228 lb. QB will make his first career start against Temple (Cred:// ndinsider.com)

Something that will help take the pressure off of a first time starting quarterback is the return of fifteen starters from last season. The Fighting Irish will bring back offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey, Quenton Nelson, Sam Mustipher, and Alex Bars. Each started all twelve games a season ago, according to NBC Sports. The return of four starting offensive lineman will certainly help a first year starter having veteran leadership along the offensive line.

Along with the four offensive lineman, Notre Dame brings running back Josh Adams, and  wide receivers C.J. Sanders, as well as Equanimeous St. Brown, and tight end Durham Smythe, per NBC Sports. Adams rushed for 933 yards in the 2016 season along with five touchdowns, which followed a 2015 season of over 800 yards rushing. As for the receivers. Equanimeous St. Brown posted 961 yards receiving in 2016, the most on the team, and nine touchdowns, which was also the most of any receiver on the team. Sanders had 293 yards receiving, and two touchdowns on the season.

The Fighting Irish will also return a strong secondary in safeties Drue Tranquill, and Devin Studstill, along with cornerback Julian Love. They also bring back two linebackers in Nyles Morgan, and Te’von Coney, along with defensive lineman Jerry Tillery, and Andrew Trumbetti, according to NBC Sports.

Notre Dame will look to once again return to success by making a bowl appearance under first year starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush, and 15 returning starters from a season ago. It all gets underway on September 2nd, when the Owls travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame, in a matchup of first year starting quarterbacks.

SportsDesk Impact Player #5: William Kwenkeu

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(If you missed the honorable mentions to the countdown, click here for the list.)

#5

LB William Kwenkeu, Sophomore

William Kwenkeu saw his first game action as a true freshman against Stoney Brook (Week 2, 2016) where he had a game-high 5 tackles.

Counting down from 5 impact players for Temple football in 2017- we start with William Kwenkeu. The 6’1 205 lb. Maryland native is poised to keep the stingy, run-stopping tradition of recent Temple linebackers alive for 2017. When factoring in the impact of all players, Kwenkeu comes to mind immediately since he will likely be handling the middle linebacker duties for the defense. If we were to conduct this list at the end of last season, Avery Williams would have arguably made the cut. This year, just like Williams, Kwenkeu will be around the football on almost every play, and playing with such a strong secondary, puts more pressure on the interior front 7.

This year’s linebacker corp will feature a lot of inexperience, as three starters departed from last season. Names competing right now include Shaun Bradley and Chapelle Russell who have little game experience, but have been highly touted during this year’s offseason. Jarred Folks returns the most experience, compared finally to redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Atoki who was in last season’s mix at linebacker. There is plenty of bodies to fill the roles, but expect a noticeable dip in production early in the season compared to the last two seasons with the unit figuring things out. Along with Atoki, Kwenkeu is the most game-productive ready, and he will be leading a LB group with promise but little experience.

Kwenkeu (Black) falls on a loose ball while on the kickoff team to spark a Temple comeback that fell short in Week 6 vs MEM. // Credit: ESPN

What’s interesting is Kwenkeu isn’t proven as an every down contributor. As a true sophomore, he just has all the tools to be a successful run-stopper at the collegiate level. This past season, he was a stand out on special teams, while logging valuable snaps on defense in place of an injured Stephaun Marshall. Kwenkeu finished the year with 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 fumble recovery on the kickoff coverage team which came against Memphis in a crucial point in the game. Even in Temple’s spring game, he was all over the field chasing down running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers. Expect William Kwenkeu’s game to step into the next level this season once he’s able to get comfortable in a starting role. 

Stay tuned every Wednesday for your continued countdown of Temple Football’s Top-5 impact players for 2017. Look out for player profiles, projected depth charts, and extended Notre Dame preview reports leading up to the opening game on September 2nd.

Temple Football Honorable Mentions for Top-5 Impact Players

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Alas. We’ve made it. The start of a heaping helping of football coverage in coach Geoff Collins’ first season from the SportsDesk. Since we will be counting down the top-5 impact players for the season, it is only fair we include our honorable mention players who didn’t make the cut. Remember, these are the players we project to have the most impact, not the top-5 best.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Disclaimer: All of the players on this honorable mention list are NFL prospects. 3 are seniors. There are a bunch of pro prospects on this team (roughly 15 jr./sr.’s).

FS Sean Chandler, Senior: 

Credit: Philly.com
Champ is in my opinion the best player in the Owls secondary, and many NFL scouts would agree. The reason he isn’t featured in our top-5 most impactful is because we feel there is another defensive back who has his nose in more plays and usually sees more action in game situations. Chandler is coming off of a 2016 season where he missed 4 games with a knee injury (SMU, Memphis, UCF, USF). The Owls were 3-1 in that span, and in their one loss to Memphis, Tiger’s QB Riley Ferguson had a field day en route to a 34-27 victory. Moving forward Chandler comes into this season featured on several award watch lists, including the nation’s best defensive player (Bednarik Award) which current Pittsburgh Steeler and Temple faithful Tyler Matakevich brought home in 2015. Expect a lot of good to be said about Chandler throughout next season, as he’ll be anchoring one of the top secondaries in the nation.
WR Ventell Bryant, RS Junior:
Credit: Newsday.com

I know what you’re thinking- let me explain. When choosing just 5 impact players, some position groups are left out, and it just so happens there are no wide receivers on this list. That has to do in part with the uncertainty at quarterback, and our predicted level of production from RB Ryquell Amstead. Not to mention, the receiving corp is very good (Adonis Jennings, Keith Kirkwood, Broderick Yancy), and whoever is targeted from one of the young quarterbacks will likely come down with it. I do project Bryant to be the leader of this group in terms of stats, as he did last season with 895 receiving yards on 54 receptions. He did that in just 11 games compared to Jenning’s and Kirkwood’s 14. In terms of predictions for this season, If he does, I don’t see him eclipsing last season’s receptions or yards by too much due to both a new arm behind center and a more even spread to the receivers. Good news- just last week it was announced Bryant is a nominee for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver.

CB Mike Jones, RS Senior:

Mike Jones (right) // Credit: Temple News
Here’s a name that come March and April of 2018 you will be hearing a lot of. That is his plan anyway. Mike Jones is a graduate transfer from D1-AA North Carolina Central. His decision to come to Temple for his final eligible season was a risky one, but it comes with high reward. He was already a projected draft pick (5th-6th round) in the 2017 draft before he withdrew his name and decided to come back to school to join Geoff Collins. His logic is he can perform well and raise his draft stock which will help his professional career. He’s part of the reason it is no stretch to refer to Temple as one of the top secondaries in the country. For more on his bio, read my article from the day Temple signed the cornerback.
DE Sharif Finch, RS Senior:
Credit: Philly.com
Here’s someone I consider a huge sleeper on this Owls unit, and someone who will have their hands on a lot of stops for the Temple defense this season. Last year chronic knee injuries plagued Finch as he played in only Week 1 and Week 2- which led to a granted NCAA medical redshirt. In last year’s opener he blocked a punt vs. Army, which ups his total of blocked punts to a nation’s best 5 for his career. I can’t find records online but I would bet no other active player has more than 3. Rewind to 2015’s home opener where Finch returned an interception for a touchdown to swing the momentum vs. Penn State- some analysts were arguing he was one of the best players on the field for the Owls that afternoon. The word around the team is that he’s healthy and ready to be a force around the end for opposing quarterbacks.

SportsDesk To Announce Temple Football’s Top 5 Impact Players

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Ryquell Amstead powered Temple past USF last season with 210 yards rushing and 2 of his 13 touchdowns on the year. // Credit: USA Today

With training camp starting on Monday July 31, Temple football and first year head coach Geoff Collins are set to defend their 2016 conference title with a revamped unit in 2017. Released last week were the AAC media poll rankings, and the league has Temple falling two spots in the Eastern conference behind UCF (2nd) and USF (1st).

The media hesitation with the Owls largely lies in the mystery at Quarterback. Not to mention a new offensive coordinator in Dave Patenaude, who actually is no stranger to an open QB battle. Last year, he trotted out five signal callers in Coastal Carolina’s impressive 10-2 season. Training camp will likely show more of the type of offense Patenaude will be running, and that will narrow the “two horse race” for Temple at QB in Logan Marchi and Anthony Russo. The returning leaders on last year’s AAC Championship

Offensive Coordinator Dave Patenaude demonstrating throwing drills for Logan Marchi & Anthony Russo. // Credit: Temple Athletics

team will undoubtedly have winning on their minds, and starting September 2nd in South Bend, IN, they’ll have the chance to make it happen.

With that being said, myself along with SportsDesk writers/reporters Larry O’Connor and Adam Miller will be compiling a top-5 list in regards to each player’s impact on the team this season. Ryquell Armstead and Sean “Champ” Chandler are of course returning producers, but with three spots open it will be a tough race to the finish.

Disclaimer: expect a lofty “honorable mention” section.

Starting this Wednesday August 2nd, we will count down from 5 in counting the predicted most impactful Owls in the 2017 season. The fifth report, ranking the SportsDesk’s most impactful player of 2017 will be released August 30, just three days before kickoff against Notre Dame.

Make sure to follow @TU_SportsDesk for additional football insight before gameday including a deeper look at the quarterback battle, projected depth chart overview, a season schedule outlook and more.

 

Temple Football 2018 Recruiting Update

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Wednesday was a big day on the recruiting trail for new head coach Geoff Collins and his staff. The day saw three separate 3-Star recruits commit to Temple, each becoming a member of the 2018 Temple recruiting class that has been gaining momentum ahead of Collins’ inaugural season.

Here is the breakdown of the three June 20th signees.

Trad Beatty, QB

The most notable commitment of the day was of one Trad Beatty. The 6-5 200lb southpaw quarterback out of Ben Lippen School in Columbia South Carolina becomes the first QB commitment of the 2018 Owls recruiting class.

Beatty is listed as a dual threat quarterback by 247sports, and is listed as a three star recruit. Beatty was an all-state selection in his junior season, and ran an impressive 4.62 40-yard dash, showing how he can do it with his legs, as well as his arm.

Beatty received offers from 16 other schools most notably from Mississippi State, and NC State. He also had offers from Western Kentucky, and Harvard.

After the graduation of Phillip Walker, the four year starter who could also make plays with his arm, as well as his feet, the Owls are in search of a new starting quarterback. Logan Marchi,  Anthony Russo, and Todd Centeio all factor to be in the race throughout the remainder of the offseason. Beatty will look to join the race when he arrives on North Broad Street for the 2018 season.

Kyle Dobbins, RB

The second offensive commitment of the day came in the form of Kyle Dobbins out of St. Augustine Preparatory School in Richland, New Jersey. The 5-10 188lb running back rushed for 1,282 yards in his junior season, along with 17 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.

Those numbers come after a sophomore season in which he ran for 1,613 yards, for an impressive 161.3 yards per game, and 19 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.

Including Temple, Dobbins had offers from eight schools, including Boston College, Army, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Rutgers, and Northwestern, according to 247sports.

Dobbins will join a stacked running back corps in 2018 even with the departure of record-breaking running back Jahad Thomas. The backfield includes former 4-star recruit

 Ryquell Armstead, who rushed for over 900 yards last season, David Hood, and Jager Gardner. Dobbins will look to compete from the start as a freshman, and earn meaningful snaps.

 

Jayde Pierre, DT

To round out the day Temple added a commitment from 2018 DT Jayde Pierre, out of Dominion in Sterling, Virginia. The 6-0 195lb defensive tackle had nine other offers including, Rutgers, Virginia, Arizona, and Purdue.

 Pierre becomes the first interior defensive line recruit of the 2018 class, under former Florida defensive coordinator, and now Temple Head Coach Geoff Collins.

Pierre will look to have an impact on a solid defensive line that helped propel the Owls to a top ten total defense ranking in 2016.

The Owls 2018 recruiting class now stands at 11 players. They include:

 

Name Position School State
Amir Gillis ATH Simon Gratz PA
Ronnie Stevenson WR Montour Pa
Daesean WInston OLB Arch Spalding MD
Elijah Clark CB Sayreville War M

emorial

NJ
Antonio Colclough WDE Cardinal Hayes NY
Chauncey Moore S Friendship Academy DC
Jean Paul Rodriguez OT Lakewood NJ

 

Christian Barmore OG Neumann Goretti PA

With the recent success of the program, including back to back bowl appearances, AAC championship game appearances, and the 2016 AAC championship victory, Temple is gaining momentum on the field, and on the recruiting trail.

 

 

Rose a Stand Out at USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team Training Camp

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Credit: David Maialett

Quinton Rose was a stand out early this past season. In a four game stretch from November 20th to the 25th Rose a averaged 16.5 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, and 2.8 assists per game. This was topped off by a huge 26 point explosion against a ranked Florida State team.

From there on out, Rose was fairly inconsistent. He was only able to eclipse 15 points in 2 of the following 25 games. On the season, Rose averaged 9.7 points per game, 3.8 rebounds per game, and 1.8 assists per game. Obviously, none of these number jump off the page at you, but they are solid none the less. His efforts were also good enough to land him a sport on the American Athletic Conference All-Rookie Team. Additionally, you got a glimpse of how great Rose could be in the future.

Apparently, so did the USA Mens U-19 Team. They recently offered Rose a spot of the World Cup Team for their training camp. The team is loaded with young talent like Marques Bolden of Duke, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky, and highly rated incoming recruits like Bol Bol (son of Manute Bol) and Trae Young.The coach of the team will be Kentucky’s coach John Calipiri.

So, far so good. Rose has been tearing it up in practices. As of now he looks like he’s one of the stand outs of the group and many experts agree.

Other spectators have said the Rose is one of the most consistent players there thus far. With his combination of size (6’8, 190lbs) and speed Rose has a real chance of climbing in the 2018 draft.

Hopefully, Rose will return with even more refined skills and bring the Owls back to the NCAA Tournament.

 

WATCH: Brian Roche Has The Latest In This Year’s Final SportsDesk Segment

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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.