Temple safety Sean Chandler says he feels like he has been given a second football life this season. Chandler missed four games earlier this year while recovering from a bruised right knee that occurred in practice.
He originally thought he was out for the year. Instead, Chandler returned on Oct. 29 in a 34-13 win over visiting Cincinnati and immediately made his presence felt. He had four tackles and was part of a unit that shut the Bearcats out in the second half and allowed only 11 yards from scrimmage over the final two quarters.
"I feel like I have fresh legs out there," Chandler said.
Among the happiest people to see Chandler return was redshirt senior linebacker Avery Williams, a defensive leader who accidently put the hit on his teammate in practice.
"I hurt him when I came in for a tackle, I hit him," Williams said.
Imagine Williams' emotions when he saw the player who is nicknamed "Champ" return to the field.
"To come back the way he has, he is probably the toughest man I've met in my life," Williams said. "And the thing is, he has come back and doesn't look like he was ever hurt."
It takes quite a bit to keep Chandler out of the lineup. He has been a starter since the day he arrived at Temple in 2014 from Camden High.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Chandler has appeared in 32 games during his Temple career, with 31 starts. This season in six games, he has 28 tackles and one interception. Chandler is in his first year at safety after starting his first two years at cornerback.
When he thought he was out for the season, Chandler said it was hard to keep his spirits up.
"I was a little depressed, but I would still go to meetings and be around the guys, and they helped me keep my spirits high," Chandler said. "But now that I am back I feel great."
Chandler is focused on helping Temple earn a second straight American Athletic Association East Division title and appearance in the AAC title game. The Owls are 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the AAC, and they will win the title if they win at Tulane on Saturday and against visiting East Carolina the next week.
"It's so exciting to be involved in this," Chandler said.
Chandler has always been a favorite of coach Matt Rhule, not only for his play on the field but the example he sets with the serious way he approaches his job.
"It was fantastic," Rhule said about Chandler's return. "He is an eraser back there and erases other people's mistakes. He has tremendous energy, flies around and brings so much to practice."
Rhule said Chandler's return was a demonstration of his commitment to the team.
"I think the fact that he wanted to come back and play sent a message to everybody that it is really important, that the seniors are really important to him," Rhule said.
Chandler has had great success against Tulane (3-7, 0-6). He has been part of two wins and has two of his six career interceptions against the Green Wave. He returned an interception 22 yards for a score in last year's 49-10 win over Tulane.