Temple football coach Rod Carey was ecstatic while watching the NFL draft last month. How could he not be?
The Owls had four players selected, the most ever for the program. The school has had three players selected in each of eight other drafts.
Center Matt Hennessy was selected in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons, cornerback Harrison Hand went in the fifth round to the Minnesota Vikings, the Eagles selected linebacker Shaun Bradley in the sixth round, and fellow linebacker Chapelle Russell was taken in the seventh round by Tampa Bay, under former Temple coach Bruce Arians.
In addition, four Temple players have deals as undrafted free agents. Receiver Isaiah Wright went with Washington, defensive end Dana Levine went with the New York Giants, linebacker Sam Franklin joined former Temple coach Matt Rhule with the Carolina Panthers, and guard Jovahn Fair agreed to a deal with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
“It is a dream come true, a moment in time where they’ve probably been dreaming about that moment since they first played football, and it came true," Carey said.
Temple has had multiple players drafted for five straight years, the only non-Power Five school to do so.
“For our program, it’s a huge recruiting [boost],” said Carey, who went 8-5 in his first season at Temple after six seasons as Northern Illinois’ head coach. “And it’s a powerful, powerful thing."
Temple has had 77 players drafted by NFL teams. Having this type of success, especially lately, is something any coaching staff would look to build on.
“It just happened and we are certainly capitalizing,” Carey said. "You’ve probably seen our social media and things like that. We’re pushing those things out and we want to continue to do that, because we’ve proved now, not just with this year but in the previous years at Temple, if you come here, there is a clear pathway.”
Talking about the Temple players’ success at reaching the next level is an easy recruiting pitch to make.
“We certainly have taken advantage of that and getting a nice push with the recruits that we’re speaking to on a regular basis,” Carey said.
At Northern Illinois, where his teams went 52-30, Carey never had more than two players in a season selected in the NFL draft.
Carey said he was ecstatic for all his players, but when asked about Bradley, he was especially gratified. Bradley is a local product from South Jersey’s Rancocas Valley High and now won’t have to leave Lincoln Financial Field while suiting up with the Eagles.
Bradley, a two-time first-team all-American Athletic Conference selection, was always among Carey’s favorite players, not only because of his production as the team’s leading tackler (with 87) but because of his leadership ability.
“He was overjoyed [at being drafted by the Eagles] and it is something I’m looking forward to because I’m going to be able to go down and watch him practice," Carey said. "He’s going to be around, he’s going to be able to see the guys practice [at Temple], and it is going to be a super deal for us.”