TAMPA, Fla. – Temple junior running back Rob "Nitro" Ritrovato is known for his battering-ram style as a runner. Ritrovato excels at making yards after the hit, but on Monday, he found worthy obstacles in the form of bales of hay.
With Temple meeting Florida International University in Thursday's Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, it wasn't a surprise that the teams staged lawn mower races during an outing at Busch Gardens.
That's right, Temple (6-6) and FIU (8-4) took part in a lawn mower competition. We kid you not.
You didn't expect something like a cook-off did you?
Temple coach Geoff Collins and his counterpart Butch Davis "drafted" the teams. Former NFL players Mike Alstott and Kevin Carter, along with former Tampa Bay Rays catcher Toby Hall were among the celebrities who participated.
Ritrovato didn't win his individual dual because he kept getting stuck in the hay.
"It was cool man, I have never been on a big mower like that before," Ritrovato said.
The 5-foot-11, 230-pound product of West Chester East, just couldn't overcome the hay.
"I got a little stuck in the beginning and at the end, but it is what it is," he said laughing.
These are some of the light moments during a bowl week and one that Ritrovato won't soon forget.
Fortunately for Temple, their practices have gone better than their lawn mower adventures. The Owls left Philadelphia on Saturday with snow on the ground and have enjoyed the sun in Florida. They have been working out early in the mornings at Boca Ciega High in Gulfport.
"It has been good and I got a little bit of color and we have had two really good days of practice," Temple quarterback Frank Nutile said. "We are really executing and focusing on the game plan, and it has been nice to get out of the cold in Philadelphia."
The temperature around 9 a.m. was close to 70 degrees.
Temple received its 24th known commitment when offensive tackle Jobdariel Gomez, an offensive tackle from ASA (Junior) College of Miami announced his decision on Twitter.
He became the third junior college lineman to commit to the Owls in the last two days. On Sunday, the Owls received commitments from Arizona Western JC offensive tackle Bo Alexander and Dakota College of Bottineau defensive end Mickolos Madourie.
The new early signing period runs from Wednesday through Friday. A person familiar with Temple recruiting says as many as three more commits could come in by Wednesday, including some from juior college.
Here is the class of 2018 for Temple. The Owls are confident that most will sign on Wednesday.
Class of 2018
Eli Clark 6-3, 165 DB Sayreville, NJ
Ronnie Stevenson 6-4, 200 WR Montour, McKees Rock PA
Jean-Paul Rodriguez 6-5, 280 OT Lakewood, NJ
Daesean Winston 6-2, 180 LB Archbishop Spalding, (Severn, MD)
Antonio Colclough 6-5, 212 TE-DE Cardinal Hayes, Bronx, NY
Amir Gillis 5-10, 192 QB-FS Simon Gratz, Philadelphia, PA
Chauncey Moore 5-11, 178 WR-CB Friendship Collegiate Academy, Washington DC
Kyle Dobbins 5-10, 195 RB Timber Creek, Erial, NJ
Trad Beatty 6-5, 200 QB Ben Lippen H.S., Columbia, South Carolina
Kadas Reams 6-0, 180 WR New Brunswick H.S. (Milford Academy)
Evan Boozer 6-4, 235 DE Loyola Blakefield H.S. Towson, MD
David Martin-Robinson 6-4 220 ATH Hempfield, H.S. Landisville, PA
Dante Burke 6-3, 233 DL Bishop Sullivan H.S. Virginia Beach, VA
Adam Klein, 6-5, 265, OT Episcopal Academy, PA
Aaron Jarman 6-5, 243 TE-DE North Lenoir, NC
Sean Ryan 6-3, 185 WR Rasmus Hall, Brooklyn, NY
Jordan Smith 6-3, 190 WR Weston H.S. Florida
Oskar Andersson 6-5, 290 OL RIG Football Academy, Stockholm, Sweden
Isaac Moore 6-6, 295 OG Sweden
Onasis Neeley 5-11, 180 RB East Pennsboro H.S. Enola, PA
Layton Jordan 6-3, 205 LB McKeesport, PA
Bo Alexander 6-4, 290 OT Arizona Western JC, Yuma, Arizona
Nickolos Madourie 6-4, 250 DE Dakota College of Bottineau JC, Bottineau, North Dakota