This wasn’t how graduate student Dan Archibong envisioned this year at Temple, a season of losing. Temple has regularly lost games and players to injury and to COVID-19 protocols.
Through seven games for the 1-6 Owls, the 6-foot-6, 300-pound defensive tackle is one of five Temple players to start all seven games. The others are defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh, linebacker William Kwenkeu, receiver Branden Mack, and center C.J. Perez.
Mack won’t play Saturday in an American Athletic Conference game against No. 7 Cincinnati after suffering a thumb injury that will require surgery.
So Temple has a small group of regulars who have made it through this strange season. In an added twist, Archibong got in on a few plays at tight end Saturday during a 28-3 loss to East Carolina.
“Showing that versatility is always good, especially for the next level,” Archibong said after the game.
In this lost season, Archibong has at least delivered a sufficient amount of tape for NFL scouts. No doubt they will look at him playing a second position for a team going nowhere as a positive, still fighting amid this frustration season.
Archibong’s stats aren’t eye-popping. He has 22 tackles, including 3½ for losses. and two sacks. He also has a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Yet he often occupies multiple blockers.
The NCAA is allowing all football players a free season of eligibility, so if he wants, Archibong, who has a degree in criminal justice, could return for a sixth season at Temple.
“He’s trying to figure out if he’s coming back or not for another year, trying to figure that out with his family and I wanted to support him in that,” Temple coach Rod Carey said. “I said to him that you played your best football, no question.”
Carey likes how Archibong has adapted to any situation.
“Durability has been there the whole time, and we put him at tight end and he did a great job,” Carey said. “So I’m super happy for Dan and it just shows if you keep showing up, if you are available over and over and over again,” good things happen.
Archibong has made an impression on Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell.
“It doesn’t take long to notice what he has done, his consistency,” Luke Fickell said Tuesday. “I think it is hard when things around you aren’t going well, and I don’t mean just wins. It makes it really difficult, and I don’t know the guy but he must be a competitive kid that has continued to push through no matter what the situation is.”
Archibong has played 48 career games at Temple, with 42 starts. None offered such a bizarre situation as Saturday’s game, which was delayed 50 minutes after a Temple player who was at the stadium left to get tested for COVID-19 and received a positive result. Because of that, Temple added five players to its COVID-19 list, with the other four due to contact tracing. After that, the two teams took the field.
“It was simply chaotic,” Archibong said.
Yet through all the chaos, he has continued to be among the leaders on the team, going hard all the time and doing his best to help the undermanned Owls, who have lost five in a row.
Archibong has shown that through adversity, he has continued to fight. It’s a characteristic that NFL teams will no doubt consider when evaluating his pro potential.