Temple Downs SMU To Notch 20th Win of the Season

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In dominating fashion, the #25 ranked Temple Owls handled the SMU Mustangs to clinch their 20th victory of the season. The win comes as Temple’s tenth conference victory of the season, and fourth straight win in a row.

The Owls were lead by the contributions of junior Donnaizha Fountain who tallied another double-double on the season, scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Temple would ride on the shoulders of senior Feyonda Fitzgerald who scored  17 points and notch 6 assist. Junior Tanaya Atkinson provided a solid effort off the bench as she would score 12 points and grab six rebounds.

The game was a blow-out from the start as the Owls would jump off to 10-0 lead early in the first quarter. The main reason for the explosive start could be the 18 rebounds the team had in the first quarter compared to SMU’s 11. Out of Temple’s 18 first quarter rebounds, senior Ruth Sherill would account for seven of them. It also helped that seven of the 18 rebounds were offensive rebounds as well, compared to SMU’s two. Temple would eventually outscore the Mustangs 19-4 in the first quarter.

For the rest of the game, it would be difficult for SMU to comeback from the huge first quarter deficit. Though SMU would get off to a slow start, the Mustangs would actually compete with Temple through the remanding three quarters, even outscoring the Owls 33-30 in the second half. The deficit would be to big, and Temple defeated SMU 66-52.

“No matter what, we still found ways to increase the lead in this game,” said Head Coach Tonya Cardoza. “Even though they basically beat us in the third and fourth quarter.”

The win not only marks the 20th win of the season for the Owls, it also clinches coach Cardoza’s seventh 20th win season of her head coaching career. It also is the first victory since Temple was officially announced as a nationally ranked team on Tuesday.

“To know that we are getting noticed and our hard work is paying off feels great.” said senior Feyonda Fitzgerald. “But like coach said it doesn’t stop here. We got to keep working, and we have to keep getting better as a team.”

Temple will be back in action Sunday at 1:00, at #22 ranked USF as the Owls will look to avenge the Jan. 29 loss they suffered against the Bulls. The game will be televised on ESPN 2.

Rose Leads the Owls in His First Career Start

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Temple’s head coach Fran Dunphy decided to switch things up for the Owls’ road game at Memphis. The Owls started the veterans Shizz Alston Jr., Daniel Dingle and Obi Enechionyia, but surprised everyone when he inserted freshmen Damion Moore and Quinton Rose.

Dunphy’s decision to dip into the fountain of youth paid off as Damion Moore provided a much-needed post presence and Quinton Rose ignited the Temple offense in their 74-62 win against the Memphis Tigers.

In Damion Moore’s second career start, he posted 6 points and 8 rebounds in his 15 minutes and Quinton Rose recorded a team-high 18 points as he knocked down 4 of his 5 three-point attempts.

Early in Sunday afternoon’s contest, it looked like Temple’s road woes would continue against the 3rd ranked team in the American Athletic Conference. The AAC’s second leading scorer, Dedric Lawson, dominated with 7 points in the first 4 minutes, and the Temple offense lacked any sort of flow.

The tables turned at the 11:43 mark with the Owls trailing 23-14.

In a little less than a dozen minutes, the Owls put on a beautiful scoring display and completely shut down Dedric Lawson and the Memphis Tigers. They went on a 25-2 run to take a 14-point lead heading into halftime.

The 25-2 surge was led by sophomore Shizz Alston Jr., who recorded 10 points over that stretch, including a three-pointer as time expired in the first half. The Owls shot 57% from the field with their 17 for 30 shooting clinic and all eight Owls that saw action in the first half scored at least one bucket. On the defensive end, the Tigers could not buy a bucket as they made 1 of the last 13 field goal attempts to end the first half.

The Tigers clawed back into the game in the second half as they switched up their defense and applied a full court press. The full-court pressure did not force turnovers, as the Owls finished with 19 assists to 10 turnovers, but it seemed the break that fantastic offensive flow the Cherry and White showed late in the first half.

Temple was held to only 9 made field goals in the second half, and while the Owls attempted all twenty of their free throws in the second half, they only sunk 12 of them.

In what was at one point a 19-point Temple lead, Memphis went on an 14-1 run of their own and cut the deficit to as low as four at 56-52 with 7:05 remaining.

The Owls outscored the Tigers 18-10 in the final 7 minutes to put the game on ice. Of those final 18 points, 9 came from the charity stripe as Temple shot 9-12 from the line during this stretch and the other 9 points came from behind the arc. Quinton Rose cashed two threes in the last seven minutes and then Obi Enechionyia nailed the dagger from the corner with 33 seconds to go.

Enechionyia posted 10 points (3/8 from behind the arc) and 6 rebounds. Senior captain Dan Dingle had 13 points and tied his career high with seven assists.

The victory was the Owls’ third win in a true road game, and it improves their record to 14-12.

The Owls will be back in action Wednesday night against the East Carolina Pirates. The Pirates, at 3-9 in the AAC, sit in 9th place in the conference. This matchup could potentially be the same matchup the Owls have in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament in Connecticut. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 pm and the game will air on ESPNNews.



Temple Track & Field Grabs Three Personal Records at Fastrack National Invitational

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By: Adam Miller

Credit: Temple Athletics

This past Friday the Temple Women’s Track and Field team took to the Fastrack National Invitational at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex. The group produced two top-three finishes, but the three personal records were the headline of the day.

In the 400-meter dash, senior Kenya Gatson broke her season record with a time of 56.31. The effort was enough to propel Gatson to a third overall finish out of an assembly of 44. Gatson wasn’t the only Owl to break some personal records, Katie Leisher and freshman Grace Moore each achieved personal record in the mile run. Leisher finished with 15th overall and a time of 4:53.40 while Moore came in 17th with a time of 4:53.49.

Finally, the 4 x 400 meter relay team took third out of a field of six. The squad of Gaston, Millie Howard, Crystal Jones, and Bionca St. Fleur finished with a time of  3:54.64, besting each of the team’s previous races of the 2016-2017 season.

Outside of all the personal records, Seniors St. Fleur and Jimmia McCluskey competed in the long jump invite. St. Fleur finished with a jump of 5.62m, putting her at fourth place while McCluskey’s jump of 5.50m placed her at sixth overall.

Look for the Owls to continue to make major strides the AAC Championship Approaches

Temple Women’s Basketball Winning Streak Continues

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After a two game losing streak, the Owls are back on track winning their third straight game in a row against East Carolina Saturday afternoon. Temple Women’s Basketball beat the East Carolina Pirates by a score of 76-43. This win puts the Owls at 19-5 overall and 10-2 in the American Athletic Conference, and this loss brings East Carolina down to 10-15 overall and 1-11 in conference play.

East Carolina kept it close in the beginning half of the first quarter. The Pirates made a layup to start off the quarter, but Junior Donnaizha Fountain would answer with a solid three pointer. East Carolina made a jumper keeping the game close, but Donnaizha Fountain would answer again with another three-point shot allowing the Owls to take the lead 6-4. East Carolina made another jumper to tie the game, but after that, the Owls took over. Junior Tanaya Atkinson made both her free throws to have the Owls go up 8-6. Layups by Donnaizha Fountain and Feyonda Fitzgerald would further extend the lead in the first quarter. Junior Alliya Butts also added a three-point shot to help out the Owls while Freshman Shantay Taylor was able to make her free throws. The Owls ended the first quarter up by 14 points.

The second quarter only got better for the Owls as they continued to extend their lead. It started off with a fast break layup from Tanaya Atkinson. Feyonda Fitzgerald would also add a jumper and layup in the beginning of the second quarter. Alliya Butts and Ruth Sherrill both were able to contribute layups, and Donnaizha Fountain added another three-pointer to extend the Owls lead to 21 points over the Pirates. A layup from Fountain at the end of the second quarter put the Owls up 46-20.

Courtesy OwlSports

The Owls only continued to keep at least a 23-point lead over East Carolina during the second half of regulation. Donnaizha Fountain and Feyonda Fitzgerald both made 3-5 field goal shots in the second half. Shantay Taylor also was shooting 75% for free throws.  The team totaled 27 rebounds just in the second half of play. With layups made by Fountain, Butts, and Taylor, Temple was able to beat East Carolina with a score of 76-43.

Senior Feyonda Fitzgerald recorded 21 points and 6 assists for the Owls and Junior Donnaizha Fountain had a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Alliya Butts was able to notch 12 points and recorded a career-high 6 rebounds at 5”4. Junior Tanaya Atkinson had 12 points and Freshman Shantay Taylor added 8 points. Senior Ruth Sherrill also notched 7 rebounds for the Owls.

The Owls will be facing SMU on February 15th at 7PM in Pearson McGonigle Hall.

SMU Takes Down Temple 66-50

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25th ranked SMU took down Temple at the Liacouras Center by a final score of 66-50  for its seventh consecutive win, and 17th of its last 18th.

Mustang junior forward Semi Ojeleye led the way for 2nd ranked team in the AAC, with 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds. He also made 10-11 free throws on the night. Ojeleye was the leading scorer for SMU when they defeated Temple just over a month ago.

The Owls matched up well with SMU early in the first half, and were tied with the Mustangs after the second media timeout. SMU subsequently went on a 10-0 to take a 13 point lead at 28-13.

Temple’s offensive woes continued in the opening 20 minutes of play, shooting  just 24 percent from the field in the first half, and just 3-14 from beyond the arc.

SMU capitalized on 11 Temple first half turnovers, scoring 11 points on the other end. SMU also had nine turnovers, allowing seven Temple points off turnovers at the other end of the floor.

The Mustangs, who lead the AAC in three point percentage, shot just 1-7 from three in the first half, and just 32 percent from the field overall. Junior forward Semi Ojeleye led all scorers at the half with 13 points.

Temple managed to stay within single digits for most of the second half, cutting the lead to six with under eight minutes remaining in the game.

Shizz Alston led the Owls with 13 points.

SMU took from that point forward, closing out the game on a 15-5 run. Both teams finished the game with 16 turnovers apiece, and each team had 72 possessions. The game marked the 7th in a row with double digit turnovers for the Owls.

“We did not handle it well, it certainly hurt us in the first half,” said Fran Dunphy on the full court press of SMU.

Shizz Alston led the way for the Owls with 13 points, followed by Quinton Rose with 12, and Daniel Dingle with 10.

The Mustangs dominated the glass, with a 49-32 rebound advantage. SMU also collected 15 offensive rebounds on the night. Obi Enechionyia led the Owls with a 11 rebounds.

“We didn’t get to the glass enough, we could’ve done that better,” said Enechionyia.

Senior guard Sterling Brown was the only other Mustang in double figures besides Ojeleye on the night, followed by two more SMU players with nine points.

“I give Temple credit, I thought they defended very well, they made us uncomfortable at times,” said SMU coach Tim Jankovich.

The Owls held SMU to under 40 percent shooting from the field, and just 23 percent from beyond the arc. The Mustangs entered the game the leading team in the AAC in terms of three point percentage.

Temple has little layover time, as they travel to Tennessee on Sunday to take on the 18-7 Memphis Tigers, whom the Owls defeated 77-66 on January 25.


Owls Keep Hope Alive with Huge Win Against USF

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Credit: City of Basketball Love


Philadelphia, PA – The Owls (13-1, 4-7) are still fighting to make a run at the AAC tournament with another conference win against the USF Bulls (6-15, 0-11).

Temple did not let the Bulls get any confidence as they jumped out to a early 9-0 run shooting 4/6 from behind the arc in the first 6 minutes. This became arguably the best half Temple has played all season shooing 62% from the field.

Daniel Dingle put the team on his back and led the charge from the start finishing with a career high 22 pts,4 rebs,4 ast including 6/7 from the three point line . With seven games left in the season and a spot in the conference tournament in sight Dingle says, “We can go into conference play and win out, I really believe that.”  Shizz Alston Jr. the AAC leader in Assist/Turnover Ratio and Temple leading scorer has continued his strong play with 14 pts and 7ast.

USF made a 2nd half run cutting the lead to 11 at the 5 minute mark but that was as close as they got. USF PG G. Thorpe did his best to give USF a fighting chance with 23 pts, 6 ast, 4 rebs.

Coach Dunphy and the Owls prepare for another home conference game Thursday, February 9th against one of the toughest teams in the AAC, the SMU Mustangs (20-4,10-1). Junior F Semi Ojeleye with averages of 17.7 pts and 6.7 rebs per game has been one of the best players in the AAC this season and should give the Owls everything they can handle.


Meet The 2017 Temple Football Recruiting Class

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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)

Courtesy: ncaa.org

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.

Courtesy: hudl.com

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)

Courtesy: somdnews.com

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)

Courtesy: Shore Sports Network

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.

Courtesy: 247 Sports

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

Courtesy: hudl.com


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.

Courtesy: The Hour

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)

Courtesy: Philly Tribune

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.

Red Hot Huskies Take Down Temple 97-67

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The UConn Huskies have been hot for 96 straight games for a reason. They are efficient while being able to intimidate their opponents, when home and away. “Playing against UConn…they show you every night why they are great,” says Coach Cardoza. While most teams do not have the privilege to play the top team in the country, the Owls have been granted that luxury and burden to go against one of the most dominant dynasties in all of sports. Cardoza explains how, “…it is an incentive, we get to play on national television more than we’ve ever had, so that’s an incentive. People get to watch us on TV, and enjoy our style of play, so I love that my team gets to play against them…”

 (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

First Impressions Are Important:

To a lot of people, the game was over after the first half. Temple shot 23.5% from the field in the second quarter and 15.8% in the first, for a first half combination of 19.65%. The Huskies on the other hand shot 71.4% and 83.3% in the opening quarters of t
he game. Temple only had 8 made shots in the entire first half, including foul shots. UConn had 10 in the first quarter, not including their 5-6 from the free throw line. The Huskies were able to lock down on Temple’s leading scorer Feyonda Fitzgerald, whom averages 17 ppg, she was held to just 7 points (3-16 FG, 1-6 3PA).


Greatness Doesn’t Quit:

Despite struggling from all over in the first half, Temple came out fired up to start the second. Their shooting improved to 64.7% from the field, while UConn’s dropped to below 50%. The Owls won the third quarter 29-22, and responded with a combined 51 point second half to UConn’s 45 point second half. Head Coach of the UConn Huskies, Geno Auriemma, acknowledged their tenacity and said, “…it would have been easy to come out, down 30 at half time and lose by 6
5. They didn’t stop competing. They didn’t stop playing. They didn’t stop attacking us at both ends of the floor, and those kids play with a certain competitive spirit.”


Geno and Cardoza:

Cardoza and Coach Auriemma are by no means strangers. Cardoza coached under Auriemma for 14 seasons at the University of Connecticut, and helped lead the Huskies to five national titles. Auriemma praises Cardoza for her ability to win in a competitive city. He says, “When you look at their team, and you look at the way they play, and how hard they compete, and she’s won an awful lot of games here, and I think a big statement about Tonya [Cardoza] is the way their team played in the second half…and I think that’s a direct reflection on Tonya and her coaching staff.”


Catch Them Next:

The Owls are headed down South to take on The Tulane Green Wave on February 5th, tip-off is set for 2pm. The Owls are now 6-2 in the AAC, ranking no.3 under USF and UConn. They are looking to increase their 16-5 record to 17-5 overall this Sunday.

Owls Stay Afloat in the AAC, Sink the Green Wave

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With the Owls on the brink of joining the cellar of the American Athletic Conference standings, freshman Quinton Rose and the Temple Owls went on a second-half surge to secure their first conference road win at Tulane 79-71.

In a first half that saw 7 ties and 5 lead changes, the Owls headed into the locker room all tied at 34 apiece despite their poor rebounding performance. Tulane’s center Ryan Smith, who had 11 points and 5 offensive rebounds, and forward Sammis Reyes, 9 points and 7 boards, dominated the glass with Temple’s Ernest Aflakpui stuck on the bench early on. Tulane’s 11 offensive rebounds and 16 second chance points in the first half kept them in the game against the Owls that shot 51% from the floor.

The second-half surge for the Cherry and White was led by Quinton Rose. The Rochester, NY product finished the night with 18 points and 9 rebounds, including 5 for 6 from the free throw line. Rose used his superior quickness from the second he entered the game to get into the paint and used his athleticism to finish around the rim.

Obi Enechionyia knocked down a three-pointer and Shizz Alston Jr. swished a few free throws to generate a 10-2 run early in the second half to give the Owls some breathing room at 48-40.

Enechionyia looked like his old self Tuesday night with 13 points on 5 for 8 shooting, but he struggled with foul trouble in his 27 minutes played. Shizz Alston Jr, the Owls new leading scorer, struggled with foul trouble as

Owls Fall to Houston 79-66
Enechionyia posts 13 points in the win

well. Alston scored 15 points and grabbed 6 rebounds before he fouled out in the final minutes of play.


With 6:45 left in the game, Quinton Rose threw a cross-court fastball to Ernest Aflakpui for the layup and the Owls took their largest lead of the game at 13, but the Green Wave would not quit. Tulane’s Cameron Reynolds scored 5 straight points to make the score 67-61, then with the score at 69-63, Reynolds hit a three pointer to trim the Owls’ lead to 3. That was the closest that Tulane got to a comeback, but the redshirt-junior still had a game-high 29 points in defeat.

The number 70 continues to be the magic number for Temple. In games when the Owls put up more than 70 points, they are 11-1, with that one loss coming to the AAC’s strongest team in the Cincinnati Bearcats.

As far as the American Athletic Conference standings, the Owls still sit in 8th place at 3-7, but they still have a great opportunity to climb the standings and assert themselves with the AAC’s best.

Of the Owls 8 remaining games, 4 of them come against South Florida (twice), East Carolina and Tulane. Those three programs have a combined 3 AAC victories. Along with the Owls four matchups with the worst teams in the AAC, they face UCONN and Central Florida, the two teams right ahead of TU in the AAC standings. Those two games are great opportunities to gain even more ground as both games will be at the Liacouras Center.

Catch the Owls in action next this Sunday, February 5th as they face USF. Sunday’s game is at the Liacouras Center and tipoff is scheduled for 1 pm and will be televised on CSN.

Temple Adds Graduate Transfer Mike Jones of North Carolina Central

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Graduate Transfer Mike Jones joins Temple Football.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.