Temple end Quincy Roche was named the American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year on Wednesday. He was one of seven Temple players honored, with four on the all-AAC first team and three more on the second-team.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Roche, a redshirt junior, recorded 44 tackles and led the AAC with 18 tackles for loss and 13 sacks.
“It is a good feeling, and I am happy about it,” Roche said. “[It was] one of my goals that I set at the beginning of the year, and it is a huge blessing to be able to accomplish one of your goals.”
Also earning first-team honors, senior linebacker Shaun Bradley, redshirt junior center Matt Hennessy, and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh.
Redshirt sophomore receiver Jadan Blue, senior linebacker Sam Franklin, and offensive guard Jovahn Fair, a grad student, were named to the second team.
Temple (8-4) will learn its bowl destination Sunday. The Military Bowl, Gasparilla Bowl, and Boca Raton Bowl remain the three leading contenders, according to multiple sources.
Around midseason, Roche was banged up with injuries that didn’t keep him out of the lineup, but left him at less than 100 percent.
In the last four games, he overcame those setbacks and took his game to another level with 13 tackles for loss, including 10 sacks. His best game during that span came in a 29-21 win over Tulane on Nov. 16 at Lincoln Financial Field, when Roche recorded 12 tackles, including six tackles for loss, and three sacks. He forced a fumble that he recovered.
“I had a couple of obstacles in the middle of the season and stayed the course, and kept believing in myself, taking care of business," Roche said.
Roche will graduate this month with a degree in communications studies. He says he will definitely play in the Owls bowl game, but doesn’t have definitive plans as far as whether he will enter the NFL draft.
“I have so much going on with graduation, the bowl game and haven’t put much thought into it," he said.
Fair, who has started 42 games on the offensive line, had to face Roche every day in practice.
“He had a pretty good year,” quipped Fair.
Then Fair turned serious.
“He is just a great player and you saw his impact every game,” Fair said. “He was consistent every game, dominated his opponents well, and was just a great team player and I love everything he does for us. He pops out on the screen.”
As for the other Owls, Bradley’s first-team selection was his second straight. A graduate of Rancocas Valley, Bradley has a team-high 79 tackles.
Maijeh was among the most improved players in the country. After recording seven tackles and playing sparingly last year, he has 50 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.
Hennessy has been described by one NFL scout as Temple’s best pro prospect. He was graded by Pro Football Focus as the best center in Football Championship Subdivision, allowing just four quarterback pressures this season.
As for the second-team choices, Blue has 87 receptions for 975 yards and four touchdowns. He set the Temple single-season mark for receptions and receiving yards this year.
Fair was a second-team for the second straight year. Along with Bradley and teammate Chapelle Russell, the three will compete in the NFLPA Bowl, a postseason all-star game at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 18.
Franklin registered 61 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and an interception. One of he fumble recoveries he returned 39 yards for a touchdown in the Owls’ 17-7 win at South Florida.