Temple football coach Matt Rhule always tells his players to be ready. He says there are countless stories of players who were low on the depth chart at the beginning of the year who later became main contributors.
The latest example is freshman walk-on kicker Aaron Boumerhi.
When junior Austin Jones suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament during last weekend's 34-27 loss at Memphis, Boumerhi was suddenly called to duty.
He successfully booted a conversion kick for Temple's final point of the game.
"It was nice to get the jitters out and get that first kick out of the way," Boumerhi said this week at practice.
Still, it was something that neither Rhule nor Boumerhi was banking on.
"We were hoping to redshirt him and have him back up Austin next year and have three great years with him," Rhule said.
Those plans went down when Jones was injured on Memphis' 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"It was one of those things you are not really expecting, but you have to be ready," Boumerhi said.
One of the ways he stays ready is by taking practice kicks at halftime. On Thursday, it paid off.
Boumerhi is from Philipsburg, Pa., and attended Philipsburg-Osceola High.
A former soccer player, he was a three-year varsity football player and two-year starter. As a sophomore, he backed up his brother, Nick, a former walk-on kicker at Penn State.
Aaron was the starter his final two seasons and said his longest field goal was about 41 yards. Yet he has shown plenty of range in practice.
"He has a McManus-type leg," Rhule said, referring to former Temple kicker Brandon McManus, a member of the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.
Rhule also admires Boumerhi's demeanor.
"He is unflappable," Rhule said. "He got in the game and was ready to kick the game-winning extra point or game-winning field goal [if needed.]"
That chance never came, but it could over the final six regular-season games for Temple, which is 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the American Athletic Conference.
Boumerhi's first start will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Orlando, when the Owls visit Central Florida (3-2, 1-0).
"I feel confident. All the coaches and my teammates have been there for me, saying 'good job' in practice and building up my spirits," said Boumerhi, who has another brother, Alex, who was a kicker for Lock Haven.
He also said one of his biggest boosters has been Jones, who is tied for second with Billy Wright on the Temple career list with 46 career field goals. McManus is the leader with 60.
"Austin, even though he is hurt, has played a big role, making sure he is there for me, watching me kick when he has the opportunity, telling me what I can improve on, what I need to fix and mentally really getting me in the right mind-set to go out and do the right things," Boumerhi said.
Rhule said he initially won't utilize Boumerhi the same way he did Jones.
"I have tremendous confidence in him," Rhule said. "I would say, because of his age, I probably will try to treat him more with kid gloves, and I won't go out there and ask him to kick a 54-yarder."
Unless, of course, the game is on the line.
"If it is for the game and he has to kick it," Rhule said, "I think 53, 54 [yards]; he can kick it that far."