Temple's best pro prospect will be busy in the offseason being evaluated by NFL teams.
Senior cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, who last week accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, was invited Tuesday to play in the East-West Shrine Game, which will be Jan. 19 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Temple safety Delvon Randall also was invited to the East-West game. The Senior Bowl will be Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala.
"It is a blessing, and it has been a lot of hard work," Ya-Sin said after Tuesday's practice. "I think my coaches and this program have set me up to do great things."
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Ya-Sin has made the most of his lone season at Temple after playing his first three years at Presbyterian College, a Football Championship Subdivision school in Clinton, S.C. When Presbyterian announced after last season that it would become a non-scholarship football program in 2020, Ya-Sin was free to transfer.
He made an immediate impact at Temple in spring practice, and has continued to do so in the regular season. One can't judge Ya-Sin by statistics because, for much of the season, especially in the second half, teams haven't thrown his way much. Still, he has 45 tackles, two interceptions, and 12 pass breakups.
"He is as elite of a defensive back as I have coached in the last seven years," said second-year head coach Geoff Collins, who was a defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and Florida before arriving at Temple. "I have been blessed to coach a Jim Thorpe Award winner, I have been blessed to coach first-round draft picks, and he is every bit in that conversation as any of those guys."
Ya-Sin built an impressive resume at Presbyterian. As a junior, he recorded 49 tackles and a school-record five interceptions and earned first-team all-Big South honors.
"Honestly, it is exactly the plays that I have made this year [that] are the plays I made last year at the FCS level, but nobody was watching," Ya-Sin said.
They are watching now.
"He has shown a lot this year," said one NFL talent evaluator, who requested anonymity. "He has helped himself a lot this year at Temple."
With good size, Ya-Sin can challenge bigger receivers, and he also can keep up with the fleet ones. He said being at Temple has lifted his game because he has faced so many top receivers every day in practice.
"When you go up against the best, you get better and better," Ya-Sin said.
Temple (7-4, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) will close the regular season Saturday at Connecticut (1-10, 0-7). After that, the Owls will compete in a bowl game for the fourth consecutive year. Ya-Sin said that any thoughts of the NFL can wait until after the bowl game.
"Honestly, I will cross that bridge when I get there," he said. "I am just trying to go out there, get better every day, and grow with my teammates."
Not one to be boastful, Ya-Sin says he hasn't been surprised by his senior season.
"Honestly, I am a competitor and I believe in myself," he said. "I believe in the work and the coaching I have gotten over the year, so I feel like I can play with anybody, and it has shown."