There wasn't time to focus on all that propelled Saledeem Major to the end zone - the prep school that closed down in the middle of the year, the Division II program that kind of felt apart on him after the coach was fired, the path back to his hometown team, even if he's paying for the privilege of playing football for Temple.

"I kind of blacked out, right after I crossed the line," Major said. "Did I really just score a touchdown?"

Teammates ran over and engulfed him after the last score in Temple's 31-12 victory Saturday over Memphis.

"Yeah, this is real - I really scored," Major said.

Right after the game, Owls coach Matt Rhule said, ""Is there a better story than Sal Major?"

Rhule talked about how there had been "a glitch with the NCAA," questions about whether Major still had eligibility left after he earned his economics degree. That finally got straightened out but Temple didn't have any scholarships left.

"He made a decision to pay his own way and be the second tight end - North Philly kid, Imhotep kid," Rhule said, mentioning that if he had a business, Major would have a job.

Major knew his job on the play. Block for a two-second count and then get out to the flat. He still was surprised by the play call. The coaches must have seen something.

"We actually ran that same play the week before and it had gotten picked - a pick-six - the same play," Major said. "I turned around, the D-back crashed, he picked the ball off. So when I did it, I turned around - I was kind of nervous, I was looking for the ball . . . I turned around, I was surprised, no one was there. No one.''

A safety eventually appeared in his path.

"I was like, 'Oh, man, I'm about to get tackled, no touchdown for me,' " Major said, but he remembers making an inside move. "He whiffed on the tackle."

Almost a perfect career bookend since the last time Major had scored was his first college game, his first college catch, at D-II Clark University in Atlanta. But no TDs in between. His path from then to now is far from being about touchdowns.

After being named team MVP at Imhotep Charter, Major's recruiting options basically came down to D-II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference schools.

"I felt like I had the talent and ability to play at a higher level,"  Major said. "And they were all area schools. I wasn't really trying to stay in the area. I was trying to get out."

He didn't have the grades to go D-I, he said, so his options were junior college or prep school. He'd heard too many bad JUCO stories, he said, so he researched a couple of prep schools. He ended up in Cincinnati.

"It was called Union Christian," Major said. "All boys, a first-year prep school."

Did that work out all right?

"Nah," Major said. "It wound up getting shut down midseason. That was crazy. The whole school. So many violations. But I picked up recruiting [interest] when I was there."

Including from the Cincinnati Bearcats. He got an offer, Major said, but when head coach Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame, the offer vanished.

That meant going back to Philadelphia. He was looking for a school, he said. "Couldn't find one."

A friend who had played against him in a city all-star game was playing down at Clark and heard Major was back home.

"He hit me up," Major said. "He said, 'Send your tape. As soon as you send your tape, I bet Coach is going to hit you up.' Three days later, I got a call."

The system fit him, Major said. He figured he'd redshirt or play some special teams and work his way in. He wound up starting at tight end. But his sophomore year, the coach ended up getting fired. It all got unorganized. He saw it was "about that time."

A suggested visit to Temple resulted in a walk-on offer, a redshirt year. He got on the field as a junior when Temple went to formations that had two tight ends, caught three passes. This season, Major, 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds, has gotten some starts. His role isn't usually as a prime target, more as a blocker. The 19-yard TD catch against Memphis was his third catch of this season.

Asked about being a walk-on, Major said, "It's not easy at all. Going from being on full scholarship to paying your way to school. There's so much I couldn't control. If I can't control it, I don't let it bother me."

He's got loans and financial aid. All worth it, he added.

"Basically being on the team is a payoff," Major said. "There's a lot of people who don't get to play football. But being able to contribute to my team's success, that's even better. It shows you hard work and sacrifice, it pays off after awhile."

That touchdown, the final score of a signature win for Temple - "it was amazing," Major said. "I walked off and everyone was smiling. Everyone. Teammates, coaches, everyone."

They all understood Saledeem Major's path to the end zone didn't just start with a play call.

@jensenoffcampus