Imhotep Charter defensive end Khalif Kemp plans to officially join Temple’s 2022 recruiting class on Feb. 2, when he signs his national letter of intent.

“I still felt whoever the coach was going to be, I was going to succeed at Temple,” said Kemp.

After former coach Rod Carey was fired on Nov. 29, Kemp spoke with then-interim coach Thad Ward about staying in close contact despite the coaching change. Kemp texted with Temple coach Stan Drayton following his Dec. 15 hire, and they talked about meeting in person soon.

“He told me he would keep calling me every day,” Kemp said. “He wanted to build a relationship with me because me and coach Carey’s bond was tight, so he wanted to replace that.”

The three-star recruit verbally committed to Temple on June 29. But he couldn’t sign his letter of intent sooner because certain academic credits didn’t transfer to Temple after being homeschooled during his junior year.

Kemp received offers from Temple, Indiana, Mississippi, and Kansas following a stellar sophomore season at Upper Dublin High School in 2019. It was his first season playing on varsity, and after spending the offseason conditioning to become a versatile defensive lineman, Kemp felt his confidence grow.

“I had my first varsity start in the first game of the season,” Kemp said. “I had two sacks, and I caught a one-handed interception. I was nervous; it was my first varsity game, so once I realized that I could do that, it was just football again.”

The 6-foot-4, 224-pound edge defender finished his sophomore season with four sacks and 21 total tackles, while also taking reps as an outside linebacker and receiver.

After two years at Upper Dublin, Kemp wanted to transfer to play for Neumann Goretti High School coach Al Crosby, who has a close relationship with Kemp and once coached at Imhotep. But Kemp never enrolled at Neumann Goretti because of the COVID-19 pandemic and was homeschooled for his junior year in 2020.

A year without football took a toll on Kemp’s college prospects dwindled. Once Indiana filled its slots at his position, the only offer on the table for Kemp was Temple.

“I feel as though if I played my junior year I would have received a lot more offers,” Kemp said. “You keep playing and you keep producing tape on Twitter and the coaches are going to contact you.”

Although Kemp didn’t compete in games, he continued to lift in the weight room and work on defensive drills. Former Temple recruiting coordinator Gabe Infante and former defensive line coach Walter Stewart stayed connected with Kemp throughout his junior year.

Kemp transferred to Imhotep his senior year to learn under coach Devon Johnson, who has been a part of a successful program that won a state championship in 2015.

While helping Imhotep to the PIAA Class 5A title game, Kemp racked up six tackles and two sacks.

When he visited Temple’s facility in June, the coaching staff waited outside to welcome Kemp and his parents.

“They made me feel like family,” Kemp said. “Even though it was my first time being there, I just felt like I was already welcomed like it was already a home for me.”

Kemp hopes to bring leadership and versatility next year in the Owls’ program, but the Philly native is also excited about playing in Lincoln Financial Field, where he grew up watching the Eagles.

Drayton’s recruits

Aaron Jones: Two-star recruit announced his verbal commitment to Temple on Dec. 29. Jones is a 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive lineman from Springfield Central High School in Springfield, Mass. The lineman had offers from five schools, including Colorado State and UMass. During his senior season, Jones had 34 tackles, one sack, and deflected one pass.

Elijah Warner: The son of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, the quarterback received an offer from Temple on Dec. 29. Warner is a three-star recruit from Brophy College Preparatory school in Phoenix. The 6-foot, 200-pounder had offers from 11 schools, including UConn, Georgia Southern, and Ball State.