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18 Temple football alumni are on NFL active rosters to start the season

A total of 26 former Owls are with NFL teams, including injured reserve and practice squads

Eagles linebacker Shaun Bradley (54) warms up before the start of practice at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 21. He is among the group of former Temple players in the NFL.
Eagles linebacker Shaun Bradley (54) warms up before the start of practice at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 21. He is among the group of former Temple players in the NFL.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

One of the sales pitches that numerous Temple football coaches have given recruits involves the Owls' track record for producing NFL players.

This year is a prime example.

As of Thursday, the Owls had 18 players who were listed on 53-man rosters for this opening weekend of the NFL. There are a total of 26 Temple players on teams, with some injured and others on practice squads.

Nobody is prouder to see this than former Temple coach Matt Rhule, who is in his first season as head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Rhule, who was head coach at Temple for four seasons and guided the Owls to the American Athletic Conference championship his final season, 2016, recruited many of these players and coached several. He said seeing so many former Owls in the NFL means a lot to him.

“Oh yes, I am fired up,” Rhule said in a phone interview Thursday while preparing for his first NFL game, Sunday against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders.

“I know those kids and know how hard they worked and I think there is something special about being at Temple. Being a Temple guy, when you leave and go to the NFL you are not entitled, you are grateful. You know how to work, and I think that is a credit to those guys."

An article said that Temple had 20 players on 53-man rosters as of Sept. 6.

But Dallas Cowboys receiver Ventell Bryant, who was on the 53-man roster, had actually been placed on injured reserve. A Cowboys official confirmed that Bryant is on IR.

In addition, former Temple defensive lineman Michael Dogbe was on the Arizona Cardinals roster until Tuesday, when he was cut following the signing of defensive lineman Angelo Blackson. Dogbe was signed the next day to the practice squad. So that dropped the number to 18.

Here are the Temple players on 53-man rosters as of Thursday:

Robby Anderson WR Carolina

Shaun Bradley LB Eagles

Dion Dawkins OT Buffalo

Sam Franklin S Carolina

Nate Hairston CB New York Jets

Harrison Hand CB Minnesota

Matt Hennessy C-G Atlanta

Matt Ioannidis DT Washington

Jacob Martin LB Houston

Tyler Matakevich LB Buffalo

Brandon McManus K Denver

Haason Reddick LB Arizona

Colin Thompson TE Carolina

P.J. Walker QB Carolina

Tahir Whitehead LB Carolina

Isaiah Wright WR Washington

Rock Ya-Sin CB Indianapolis

Tavon Young CB Baltimore

Injured reserve

Keith Kirkwood WR Carolina

Ventell Bryant WR Dallas

Practice squad

Sean Chandler DB New York Giants

Michael Dogbe DL Arizona

Chris Myarick TE Miami

Chapelle Russell LB Tampa Bay

Physically Unable to Perform List

Jullian Taylor DL San Francisco

COVID-19 List

Ryquell Armstead RB Jacksonville

Five of the former Temple players are members of the Panthers' 53-man roster. That doesn’t include receiver Keith Kirkwood, who is on the injured reserve list.

Having familiarity with those former Temple players helped Rhule, who entered the NFL after coaching the last three seasons at Baylor.

“In a year like this, a COVID year, when you are sitting there and there is so much unknown about guys, knowing you can bring in guys who are tough, you know their character -- they have to go make the team -- but you can trust who they are, and that is what I tried to do," Rhule said.

The five former Owls on the Panthers' 53-man roster played for five Temple coaches. Tahir Whitehead played for Al Golden and Steve Addazio. Robby Anderson played for Addazio and Rhule. P.J. Walker and Colin Thompson, who began his career at Florida, both played for Rhule. And rookie linebacker Sam Franklin played for Rhule, Geoff Collins, and current coach Rod Carey.

“That is five different coaches, so the coaches have changed, but the one consistent [situation] is the ethos of the program, which is tough, hard-working guys, competitive guys, and that is really what Temple University is and that is who their players are and that is pretty cool," Rhule said.

Earlier this year, when Temple had four players selected in the NFL draft and another four sign as undrafted free agents, Carey talked about how he uses this success in recruiting.

On Tuesday, redshirt senior safety Amir Tyler, added: “Just to see all these people making a roster and being on an NFL team, being acknowledged like this, is an accomplishment that shows a lot and what this program is doing.”

Even if Temple had 18 instead of the listed 20 on the rosters as stated in the article, the Owls were still tied for 27th with California and Nebraska and ahead of such Power 5 schools as Virginia Tech (16), West Virginia (15), Ole Miss (14), and Oregon (13), to name just a few.

Rhule said that when he coached at Temple, NFL personnel evaluators used to tell him how impressed they were with the way the Owls approached their craft.

“We practiced hard, we demanded that the guys were pros, that they took notes, they paid attention, and took care of their bodies,” Rhule said. “That is really what guys want. They get lots of money, you want to know you can count on them, that they are accountable, that they will do things you ask, and you know you will be getting that from Temple guys.”