One of the most heated competitions in Temple’s training camp is at safety.
The most experienced returnee is senior Benny Walls, who made nine starts last season. Also vying for the two starting spots are Aaron Monroe, a graduate transfer from Penn State; redshirt junior Keyvone Bruton; and sophomore Dae Sean Winston, one of the pleasant surprises of camp.
“You want to talk about back and forth, you can go rep by rep as to who is the starter," Temple coach Rod Carey said Friday after practice. “All four are in a really good battle back there. If we had to play tomorrow, I don’t know how I would make the decision. That is how close it is."
Carey’s debut with Temple will be Aug. 31, when the Owls host Bucknell.
Quarterback Anthony Russo remains day-to-day because of a calf injury, Carey said. Russo hasn’t practiced since Monday, when he suffered the injury. He didn’t practice Friday, but he was zipping some passes afterward.
Redshirt sophomore Todd Centeio has been taking first-team reps, and redshirt freshman Trad Beatty has been taking second-team reps.
Redshirt junior receiver Branden Mack and junior cornerback Harrison Hand, a transfer from Baylor, didn’t participate in 11-on-11 work as they continue to nurse hamstring injuries.
“We are being cautious, probably over-cautious,” Carey said about dealing with the injuries of Hand and Mack. “We have a little time now and are trying to get ahead of it and get them back.”
The dog days of training camp hit Temple on Thursday, which is why on Friday the Owls had a repeat performance.
Thursday "was very good physically and wasn’t very good mentally,” Carey said. “We had a lot of complicated situations that did not meet the standard, so we went back and repeated.”
Carey said the execution was good Friday, but even that presented a good-news, bad-news situation.
“They executed very well today and listened, and we got better today,” Carey said. “That is the good side. The bad side is that we had to repeat practice today and there were other things we wanted to be doing other than repeating what we did [Thursday].”
The battle for placekicker is between redshirt sophomore Will Mobley, the incumbent, and Jake LaFree, a graduate transfer from the University of Indianapolis.
Mobley hit 11 of 15 field goals and 54 of 55 extra points last season.
“Mobley and Jake LaFree are in a really tight battle,” Carey said. "Jake has a little muscle strain in his leg somewhere, so we are resting him, being cautious, but Mobley has really improved.”
Sophomore Adam Barry, a transfer from Independence (Kan.) Community College, appears to have the punting job.
The top three players vying for the two starting defensive tackle spots are redshirt junior Dan Archibong, senior Karamo Dioubate, and redshirt sophomore Ifeanyi Maijeh, who has been one of the camp standouts.
Archibong, who started all 13 games last year, appears to have one spot down. That would leave it up to Dioubate and Maijeh for the other.
No matter who starts, Carey plans to use several defensive linemen each game. So whoever among the three doesn’t start should still see substantial time.