Stan Drayton doesn’t plan to put together a depth chart anytime soon.
The first-year Temple football coach has seen improvement and enthusiasm from his players, but he wants to keep the competition for spots churning for the Owls, who open the season against Duke on Sept. 2.
“It’s been three good days,” Drayton said. “The thing I love about this group, they took the field ready to go, they’re anxious to play. They had a good offseason. Guys have gotten bigger and stronger and things of that sort. We got some new pieces that we’re just trying to matriculate into our system.”
Friday’s practice was the first time players wore pads and took the field in 91-degree weather. Between returning Owls, the freshman class, and new additions from the transfer portal, each player will have a clean slate for a chance at a starting spot.
“We get better by just taking on the mindset of just competing every single day,” Drayton said. “Credit to our players [that] they aren’t thinking about the depth chart, either. They’re taking advantage of every opportunity they get. We told them that it’s wide-open and it’s yours to go get. Once you get it, you’ve got to go keep it. ...That’s just the mindset of a Temple-tough football player, you compete every single day.”
Here’s a look at the state of Temple’s offense, defense, and special teams three days into training camp.
During the summer, Drayton picked up 11 players from the transfer portal, six on offense.
Of those recent additions is former Illinois running back Jakari Norwood, who had 27 carries for 120 rushing yards last season. He’s still waiting for his paperwork to be cleared but could be joining the Owls any day, according to Drayton.
“He’s got versatility,” Drayton said. “He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s tough on contact, but he’s got the fifth gear. ... He’s a guy that can hit a home run, so something that we felt we needed in that group and I’m hoping that he can bring that.”
The running back room features returners Edward Saydee, who took the bulk of carries last season, Darvon Hubbard, and Trey Blair. Drayton mentioned that the halfbacks have improved since the spring, when they learned new blocking schemes.
Quincy Patterson, a transfer quarterback from North Dakota State whom Drayton calls a natural leader, has been making a name for himself early in camp. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf sees Patterson as a player who can run well and has good size at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds.
“You see a real team player,” Langsdorf said. “Doing whatever he needs to do to help the team win. ... He just has a really good personality, very open and helpful to the guys. He’s a team player all the way.”
Langsdorf added that a starter from last season, D’Wan Mathis, has improved his throwing accuracy. The quarterback competition will continue.
Drayton also mentioned the additions of transfers Ian Stewart (Northwestern) and Adonicas Sanders (Georgia Tech) have added depth at wide receiver.
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot plans to use a 3-4 lineup with a variety of fronts. Although the returners had to learn a new system since Temple ran a 4-3 defense under Rod Carey last season, Eliot has seen the linebackers thrive in the attacking scheme.
“They liked that there’s so many opportunities for people to get to the quarterback,” Eliot said. “It comes down to effort and execution and we’ve got to get them playing hard every snap and executing.”
Among the returning linebackers are Jordan Magee, Yvandy Rigby, and Kobe Wilson.
Special teams coordinator Adam Scheier said the Owls may add another walk-on kicker during camp. Currently, the group includes placekicker Rory Bell, punter Mackenzie Morgan, and kicker/punter Noah Botsford.
Morgan is an Australian grad transfer from Weber State. “I love what he brings to the table,” Scheier said. “There’s nothing that really bothers him.”
On kick and punt returns, receivers Amad Anderson, Jose Barbon, Malik Cooper, and cornerback Jalen McMurray have taken most of reps there.
“The goal is to have the guy that’s the most explosive be the guy that you trust the most,” Scheier said. “Amad is working to gain that spot and certainly is a dynamic athlete. He can be a threat in the return game, both in kicks and punts, but he’s got to catch the punts a little bit better.”