Temple football coach Rod Carey predicted that the college football landscape would be changing dramatically, and was he ever right.
With the NCAA expected to approve a one-time transfer rule that would allow first-time transfers immediate eligibility, the transfer portal is one crowded place these days. Temple has lost some key members who have or will soon enter the portal, but the Owls also received some expected contributors from other schools.
And as the first day of the early signing period occurred on Wednesday, Temple’s 17-member class might have been saved by transfers, probably none more high profile than redshirt freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis, who started the first game this season for current No. 10 Georgia.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Mathis was pulled before halftime after completing 8-of-17 passes for 55 yards and one interception in an opening 37-10 win over Arkansas. After that game, he kept dropping on the depth chart.
Still, the former four-star recruit from Oak Park, Mich., brings impressive credentials, as does running back Ra’Von Bonner, who rushed for 822 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first three seasons at Illinois.
Both players are needed more than ever since two of Temple’s top players at both positions — quarterback Anthony Russo and running back Re’Mahn Davis — hit the transfer portal.
Russo, who started 26 games for Temple, announced Wednesday on Twitter that he will play his final college football season at Michigan State.
Also on Wednesday, offensive lineman VIncent Picozzi, who made 34 starts for Temple and has one year of eligibility remaining, said that he would enter the transfer portal.
Carey said the Temple coaching staff didn’t have any inside connections to Mathis. They saw his name in the portal and began a recruiting pitch that worked.
“We started reaching out through the normal channels that we were allowed to do and he was responsive and then that’s how it grew, a simple phone call,” Carey said. “The relationship grew quickly.”
This is like recruiting a high school player with college experience since the NCAA isn’t counting this COVID season on any football player’s eligibility. So Mathis will have four years of eligibility remaining.
“He is going to compete for the quarterback job alongside other quarterbacks, but he is an outstanding young man and his family,” Carey said.
Temple’s other three transfers are redshirt sophomore receiver Amad Anderson (Purdue), junior cornerback Keyshaun Paul (UConn), and senior defensive lineman Willie Rodgers (Washington State).
The addition of Rodgers, who had eight career sacks for Washington State, will help overcome the departure of two key defensive tackles.
Carey said that redshirt senior defensive tackle Dan Archibong, who has been at Temple for five years, has decided to declare for the NFL draft. Redshirt junior Ifeanyi Maijeh announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he planned to enter the transfer portal. Maijeh was a first-team all-American Athletic Conference selection as a sophomore but didn’t have the same type of impactful season this year.
Another key member of the front seven, linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley, has also entered the transfer portal.
Of the other incoming transfers, Anderson had a strong freshman season with 31 receptions for 343 yards and three touchdowns at Purdue. But this season he had just five receptions for 31 yards and no scores.
Paul will have two years of eligibility remaining and should challenge for immediate time in the secondary.
As for the quarterback situation, Temple returns redshirt sophomores Trad Beatty and Re-al Mitchell, who had transferred this year to the Owls from Iowa State. Both played when Russo missed the final four games, two with a shoulder injury and two more while in COVID protocol.
Freshman Matt Duncan and freshman walk-on Kamal Gray, who started one game, are also quarterbacks on the roster. Mariano Valenti, a sophomore transfer from Northern Illinois who sat out this year due to NCAA transfer rules, will also be in the mix.
Add one more player to the crowded quarterback room, Justin Lynch, from Chicago’s Mount Carmel High. Carey coached his brother Jordan at Northern Illinois. In 2013, Jordan Lynch finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting.
“Obviously there is a deep relationship with the Lynches, the whole family, and we were ecstatic when he committed,” Carey said. “The ceiling is really, really high for him. He runs, he throws, I know his makeup, I know his whole family’s makeup and he has the same mindset and that is really exciting to coach.”
In order for Temple or any school to be successful, it usually has to recruit well in its backyard. The Owls signed five players from the Delaware Valley — receiver Malik Cooper of St. Joseph’s Prep, defensive back Andrew Garwo (Conwell-Egan), defensive linemen Balansama Kamara (Central) and Jordan Laudato (West Chester Henderson), and safety Corey Palmer (Camden).
Temple got in late with Palmer, who also starred at receiver for Camden as a sophomore, transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., as a junior and returned to Camden his senior season.
“He’s a different dude athletically, he is one of those guys you say, he can do about anything,” Carey said about Palmer.
All coaches are happy with their signing day haul and Carey is no different.
“We have put together a great class, [but] we’re not done,” Carey said. “With the transfer portal the way it is, we will be continuing to add people as the semester goes on.”
Expected cornerback signees Jaylen Martin, from Tampa, Fla., and transfer Antwain Walker, from Northern Illinois, and running back Johnny Martin of Erial, NJ did not end up signing with Temple on Wednesday.
Temple’s Class of 2021
Name, Pos, Ht, Wt, Hometown / Previous School
Jaden Coffen, WR, 6-2, 200, Bowie, MD / St. Albans
Malik Cooper, WR, 5-9, 175, Philadelphia / St. Joseph’s Prep
Andrew Garwo, DB, 6-0, 175, Levittown, PA / Conwell-Egan
Coleman Jeffcoat, TE, 6-4, 200, Charlotte, NC / Mallard Creek
Keshaun Jones, OL, 6-5, 295, Centralia, IL / Centralia
Balansama Kamara, DL, 6-4, 230, Philadelphia / Central
Jordan Laudato, DL, 6-4, 240, West Chester / Henderson
Justin Lynch, QB, 6-1, 210, Chicago, IL / Mount Carmel
Jalen McMurray, DB, 6-0, 175, Upper Marlboro, MD / Gonzaga College HS
Jimto Obidegwu, OL, 6-5, 295, Brandywine, MD / Archbishop Carroll
Corey Palmer, DB, 6-0, 170, Camden, NJ / Camden
Jalen Satchell, DL, 6-2, 255, Long Island, NY / The Avalon School
Name, Pos, Ht, Wt, Class, Hometown / Previous School
Amad Anderson, WR, 5-11, 175, r-Soph, Staten Island, NY / Purdue
Ra’Von Bonner, RB, 5-11, 215, Sr, Cincinnati, OH / Illinois
D’Wan Mathis, QB, 6-6, 205, r-Fr, Oak Park, MI / Georgia
Keyshawn Paul, DB, 5-11, 175, Jr, Miami, FL / UConn
Willie Rodgers III, DL, 6-4, 255, Sr, Saginaw, MI / Washington State