Temple found success a year ago by recruiting a cornerback from a Football Championship Subdivision school who had one year of eligibility remaining. Now, the Owls are hoping for similar results with the addition of cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.
A two-year starter and three-year varsity player at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., Ya-Sin decided to come to Temple after his school dropped from FCS status to a non-scholarship program. He is eligible immediately.
Just as Mike Jones did last year, Ya-Sin is making a push for some serious playing time. Jones was a graduate transfer from FCS North Carolina Central who ended up starting all 13 games for the 7-6 Owls at cornerback.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Ya-Sin has made a favorable impression this spring.
"A lot of coaches on the staff have coached at smaller levels and there are good players there and he has proven that," Temple defensive backs coach Nathan Burton said after Thursday's practice, the 11th of 14 that will occur leading to the April 14 spring game. "He has played with that chip on his shoulder, and I am glad he is here."
So is Ya-Sin, who said Coastal Carolina, Western Illinois and Toledo were among the other schools he considered before choosing Temple.
"I loved the culture, that Temple-tough culture, I love the defense, the scheme," Ya-Sin said. "Coach [Geoff] Collins is a big name, a [former] defensive coordinator for Florida a couple of years, and I want to play for a guy like that who can teach me to get to the next level."
Last season, Ya-Sin was a first-team all-Big South selection and recorded 49 tackles and a school-record five interceptions.
"He can press the line. He can cover. He can tackle. He's tough," Burton said. "I love the kid."
Ya-Sin says he has benefited from facing the Owls receivers, which might be the deepest position group on the team.
"Going up against them every game elevates my game," he said.
Maybe the most impressive part of Ya-Sin's season last year was that he was able to put behind him the distraction of rumors that were circulating that the program would be dropping to non-scholarship.
"About seven or eight games into the season, rumors started going around that they were going to drop scholarships," he said. "I tried to stay focused during the season, and then I met my coaches about it afterwards. I felt the best thing for me was to leave and play on a bigger stage."
Ya-Sin, who attended Southwest DeKalb High in Decatur Ga., said the biggest adjustment has been cultural.
"The guys are a little different. I love them," he said. "The culture from South to North is totally different, how they treat each other, how they act, but I am adjusting well."
He is also adjusting quickly on the football field, and has put himself into a position to be a starter, just as his predecessor from an FCS school did a year ago.