They are just a bunch of names right now. Within a couple of years, Matt Rhule hopes the 23 players who officially chose Temple Tuesday on National Signing Day will be the foundation for a solid football program.
“This class will set the tone for 2-3 years down the road,” said Rhule, who stepped into the recruiting process late, after Steve Addazio left for Boston College. “I’m grateful most of the kids who were recruited by Steve stood by us and decided to stay. I feel really confident about the direction of the team.”
While no one will confuse the group Rhule managed to haul in with Nick Saban’s stash at Alabama — or to NCAA sanctioned Penn State — the Owls have signed a respectable class.
They concentrated on beefing up both their offensive and defensive lines, while also landing one highly-regarded running back, Zaire Williams, and quarterback P.J. Walker, who impressed Rhule when he drove Elizabeth (N.J.) High the length of the field for the winning touchdown in the state title game.
Rhule has no idea how much he can lean on any of them right away.
“I don’t know because I don’t have a great feel for what’s here,” said Rhule. “Everyone on the line I knew is gone. The backs [including Super Bowl-winning rookie Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown] are gone. I think we’ll continue with some of the guys who are already here and grow with these guys [the new recruits].’’
If Rhule has a recruiting philosophy it’s to focus on players within a few hours of campus.
“We have 10 kids from Pennsylvania and 10 from Jersey,” he said. “We believe in the footprint of being able to recruit on a tank of gas.”
“I’ve learned I don’t have to sell Temple at the end. I have to sell it in the beginning. These kids have a multitude of opportunities. But once they take a look at what we have here they like what they see.’’
For now these future Owls are just names. It’s up to Rhule and his staff to make them players.
Grading the Owls
Rhule’s class is ranked No. 91 in the country, according to Rivals.com. Temple didn’t steal any five- or four-star recruits, but here are the best coming to North Broad:
Three star recruits:
Matt Barone, OG
Zaire Williams, RB
Buddy Brown, LB
Two star recruits:
Jim Cooper, K
P.J. Walker, QB
Tyler Haddock, DT
Julian Taylor, TE
Shane Rafter, OT
Jihaad Pretlow, RB
Zach Grant, WR
Jahad Thomas, RB
Cory Crawford, WR
Brian Carter, DT
Semaj Reed, DE
Jarred Alwan, LB
Artel Foster, S
Averee Robinson, DT
Kiser Terry, DE