It's too early to judge new Temple football coach Matt Rhule as an in-game tactician. But as a recruiter, Rhule is stocking the Owls with Big Ten- and Atlantic Coast Conference-caliber talent.
Case in point: Rhule scored a major recruiting coup last month when Imhotep Charter offensive tackle Aaron Ruff committed to the Owls. Ruff is perhaps the biggest commitment thus far to Temple's Class of 2014.
The chiseled 6-foot-4, 290-pound junior has received scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech after committing to the Owls on April 25. Stanford recently requested the A student's transcripts. The Cardinal are expected to offer him a scholarship.
That's not surprising. Quite a few programs have been trying to persuade him to reconsider his Temple commitment.
"Virginia Tech came in [Monday], talking about, 'I think Virginia Tech is suited for you. I'm still going to try to get you,' " Ruff said. "The Florida Gators came in before . . . and said, 'I think Florida is suited for you.' All the schools are saying they are suited for me.
"But Temple is where I am going. No turning back."
The 17-year-old is being recruited to play right guard for the Owls. The Associated Press Class AA all-state selection was a major reason the Panthers went 14-1 and advanced to the state semifinals last season.
"I think Aaron Ruff is going to be a tremendous football player for Temple," Imhotep coach Albie Crosby said. "I think he is a young man who is very focused and very driven."
He joins a recruiting class that includes Gateway defensive end Brenon Thrift, Gateway athlete Delvon Randall, St. Peter's Prep (N.J.) safety Shamir Bearfield, and Governor Mifflin defensive end Connor Morehart.
The Owls faithful can thank Morehart, who turned down offers from Rutgers and Massachusetts, for Ruff's commitment. Morehart reached out to the Olney resident on Facebook last month, saying that the two should team up at Temple.
"Morehart said, 'You should come to Temple,' " Ruff said of the conversation. "I said, 'I'm thinking about it.' He said, 'Don't think about it. You've got to commit. Come to Temple and you will not regret it.' I said, 'All right.' "
Ruff's commitment came a day after Morehart gave his pledge to the Owls.
Now, he's trying to follow Morehart's lead.
His goal is to persuade several of Philadelphia's elite football recruits to stay home and play at Temple.
"It's going to be hard, because they want to get out of state," Ruff said. "But I'm still going to try to convince them. I'm going to try to make them come to [Temple's] camps."