Linwood Crump, starting cornerback, Temple Owls, has a little reminder to himself on his phone, a quick read any time his background appears.

BE YOURSELF

It’s a good message, Crump feels, in the year 2020, when little is normal. He doesn’t let those words simply slide past.

"Every day, every morning,'' Crump said this week. “I’m a jolly guy. Be the happy person that you are. You love to laugh, dance on the field, tell jokes.”

Here’s a bit of normalcy Crump wasn’t sure he’d get to see. Temple is actually scheduled to play a football game this week. The Owls will be at Navy Saturday night for the fall’s first athletic event involving a Philadelphia college.

"It’s like going to school that first day,'' Crump said, thinking back to normal times, when he was growing up in South Amboy, N.J. “Going to be so excited. I probably won’t be able to sleep.”

There’s an extra factor baked into his excitement, since Crump redshirted last season after an early-season hand injury. He’s a graduate student, with a degree in communication studies. He’s hoping to have a next-level football future and felt he needed more tape to impress NFL scouts.

That’s part of the back story, though. After COVID-19 hit, Crump found out you can’t look too far ahead. He talks about dealing with sudden change.

"I’ve been preached that my whole college career,'' Crump said. “I think this is the year that term is actually put to use. From not having spring football ... no workouts ... we’re going to have a season … then it’s eight games. All these protocols.”

Nothing is normal. Only in the past few weeks has the football team been allowed to fully practice together, due to city health guidelines. Before that, it was smaller groups, split in half.

"Every day is just, you know -- hold on to your rear end that day,'' said Temple head coach Rod Carey.

There’s a background-worthy 2020 mantra.

"I would imagine a lot of us … we have books that we could write -- big, thick books on how crazy it’s been,'' Carey said this week. “So it has been an education, to say the least, for me, from a lot of standpoints -- of political, educational, medical -- things I think I’d never be learning that much about.”

The toughest part of being sent home and having to stay there, Crump said, was how hard it was to get in workouts that he had taken for granted until then.

"Make sure you always have a plan,'' Crump said, a lesson learned. “I didn’t have a JUGS machine, ladders. I’d ask a friend if I could use his home gym.”

Temple cornerback Linwood Crump (11) after the Owls beat Bucknell in the 2019 season opener.
Corey Perrine / AP
Temple cornerback Linwood Crump (11) after the Owls beat Bucknell in the 2019 season opener.

If you’re wondering what to expect from Temple on Saturday … it’s 2020. That’s your answer. The year of “Who knows?”

On the one hand, Navy has played three games, is already acclimated to the season. But Navy has gotten rocked twice, is 1-2, has not yet looked like a typical Navy team.

For Temple, the advantage is not having anything on tape this season for Navy to game plan on. The disadvantage, the weird preseason.

Maybe American Athletic Conference media members somehow factored that weirdness in when they collectively picked Temple eighth in the AAC because otherwise such a ranking has a dash of disrespect for a team that hasn’t finished that low in conference play since 2013, whether the AAC was split into divisions or not.

Only four starters are back on defense, but Crump isn’t one of those, so even that number is deceiving. Lack of respect isn’t even a subject worth talking about in 2020. Seriously, who cares about predictions?

"It’s a whirlwind,'' Crump said of the season about to get going. “We’re having a pretty messed-up season. But the whole team, we got closer, we grew.”

Linwood Crump (11) in a drill last season.
Marc Narducci/Staff
Linwood Crump (11) in a drill last season.

Which is weird in itself, since they could only be together at certain times, and couldn’t use the weight room, only lift outdoors. New players had to assimilate. Virtual classes now are followed by online position meetings.

BE YOURSELF

"I try to be that guy for the corners,'' Crump said. “Try to be up, try to be happy.”

It’s not a show.

"My first game in like a year,'' Crump said. “I can’t believe it’s here.”