The time has passed so quickly for Temple safety Sean Chandler. It seems like yesterday he was earning a starting spot as a freshman at cornerback, playing the same way he did as a dominant two-way performer at Camden High.
Now he is a senior, his position changed last year from cornerback to free safety. Chandler enters the year as the Owl with arguably the highest profile, a certified NFL prospect. He is on the watch list for some of college football's most prestigious awards. Chandler is among 45 listed on the Jim Thorpe Award watch list, for the best defensive back in the country. This is his second year on the Thorpe watch list. He is also on watch lists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Lott IMPACT Award. The other three are basically college defensive player of the year awards.
True to his personality, Chandler won't get too carried away with any personal accolades.
"It lets me know they are watching me with a close eye," he said during Temple football media day on Monday. "It is only a watch list. You have to go out and win it."
Since he has been at Temple, Chandler has won quite a bit. The Owls are the defending American Athletic Conference champions after a second straight 10-4 season that tied the school record for wins.
Even though he missed four games last season with a bruised knee, Chandler was selected to the All-American Athletic Conference second-team for the second straight year.
Last season, he played the first four games, missed the next four, then finished strong. Chandler had eight tackles and forced a fumble in Temple's 34-10 win over Navy in the AAC title game.
He has played some of his top games against the best teams on Temple's schedule. In last year's 34-27 loss at Penn State, he led the Owls with eight tackles.
Chandler finished last year with 51 tackles and two interceptions in 10 games. He is Temple's active leader with 186 tackles and three fumble recoveries.
Even though he played well upon his return, Chandler was never 100 percent. During spring practice, he wasn't fully healthy, either.
"I won't say he was limited, but he wasn't full speed throughout the spring," Temple first-year coach Geoff Collins said.
Now, that has changed.
"My knee is 100 percent and I am ready to go," Chandler said.
It's a new-look Chandler. He is listed at 6-foot and said he is now 198 pounds.
That should help him as he joins with junior Delvon Randall to give Temple one of the country's top safety tandems.
Chandler was the only freshman ever awarded a single-digit jersey, presented by teammates to the nine toughest players each season.
It didn't take him long to make an impression on the new coaching staff, which took over after Matt Rhule left for the job at Baylor.
"Over the last seven years, I have coached some really good defensive backs, and Sean Chandler is in that conversation with any of those kids," said Collins, who was the defensive coordinator at Florida the previous two seasons.
In a way, winning a championship and being on so many watch lists have one thing in common.
"You have a bull's-eye on your back and more people will be watching you," said Chandler, a kinesiology major.
While Chandler doesn't dwell on individual accomplishment, he says he enjoys the attention that comes with being on multiple watch lists.
"I feel it gives me more of a drive, something I can look forward to besides [competing for] the championship," he said. "These are more like personal goals and I want to show I am a dominant player."