Temple is used to being an underdog program for football. New Owls head coach Geoff Collins found out firsthand what it’s like to try and recruit in the Northeast against other large programs such as Penn State, Pitt and Rutgers that are so close in proximity.
Rankingwise, the Owls didn’t fare so well. According to popular recruiting websites Rivals.com and 247Sports.com, the team finished dead last in the American Athletic Conference in recruiting coming in 12th. They ranked 113th nationally, among teams such as North Texas and Northern Illinois.
Temple is still far from being a recruiting destination. What Temple has become in recent years is a legitimate program, which develops players from day one.
Take cornerback Tavon Young, defensive end Matt Ioannidis and linebacker Tyler Matakevich from the 2015 team. All three came to Temple as a two-star recruits, only to be drafted to the NFL last April.
Offensive lineman Dion Dawkins, running back Jahad Thomas and linebacker Haason Reddick from this past season were all two-star recruits or below as well and are being projected as highly as first round selections in the upcoming NFL draft.
This is a testament to the coaching staff and the ability to develop undervalued talent, something that Collins will have to continue to find success with the Owls.
“It doesn’t matter what the outside people say,” Collins said. “We have stars, we can play, we are tough, we are going to work. That is who we are and that is what we are built on, and I think that gives our kids an edge and I think that’s a pretty special edge to have.”
Temple took a couple lumps during the recruiting process. Two three-star recruits decommitted last minute for greener pastures in running back Gary Brightwell (Arizona) and wide receiver Raheem Blackshear (Rutgers).
Overall Temple landed just five three-star recruits in quarterback Todd Centeio, tight end Griffin Sestili, linebacker Malik Burns, linebacker Arnold Ebiketie and linebacker Audley Isaacs.
Temple also received highly touted cornerback Mike Jones as a transfer from North Carolina Central who is an NFL-ready prospect at his position. They’re in the process of trying to land offensive lineman and graduate transfer Trey Klock of Georgia Tech, who has two years of eligibility remaining and is said to also be among the top of his class at his position.
“The big thing is the consistency with the culture,” Collins said. “Who we are philosophically and culturally is very in-line with what has been here in the past. … I think when I went into each kid’s home, they could sense that and they could feel that.”
Collins will look to build upon the foundation that’s been laid out for him. Spring practice is just around the corner.