Penn football adds 27 players in Class of 2018

ap-penn-bagnoli.png

Penn football adds 27 players in Class of 2018

Penn head coach Al Bagnoli on Thursday announced his final recruiting class. Bagnoli will retire after his 22nd season as coach.

The Class of 2018 will have 27 players total, four from New Jersey and two from Pennsylvania:

Robbie Arancio, FB - Delbarton High School, Warren, N.J.
The 6-foot, 225-pound fullback was a two-time first-team all-conference player in high school and a 2013 first-team all-county.

Nicholas Bokun, TE - Hobart High School, Hobart, Ind.
A 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end, Bokun was named to the 2012 all-state juniors team by the Indiana Football Coaches Association. He was a 2013 academic all-state.

Mustafaa Dais, WR - The Hackley School, Pomona, N.Y.
Dais lettered in football, basketball and track & field at The Hackley School. The 6-foot-2 receiver won two league titles playing football, and twice made the first-team all-state football team.

Brock Elmore, K/P - Bloomington High School, Bloomington, Ind.
The 6-foot-3 kicker/punter was a 2013 academic all-state and named to the 2013 all-state senior team by the Indiana Football Coaches Associations.

Sam Follansbee, LB - North Hunterdon High School, Annandale, N.J.
A 6-foot-2, 220-pound linebacker, Follansbee served as team captain in his senior season at North Hunterdon High School. He was also a 2013 first-team all-conference, all-county, all-area and all-West Jersey.

Tayler Hendrickson, DL - Middletown South High School, Red Bank, N.J.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder lettered three years in football and was first-team all-division in each year.

Ben Henry, OL - Palisades High School, Upper Black Eddy, Pa.
Henry (6-2/290) was Palisades High School’s team captain in his senior season, which he was also named first-team all-state.

Hunter Kelley, P/K - Edison High School, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Kelley lettered three times in football and soccer, and was a three-time Scholar Athlete honoree in both football and basketball. He was named the Sunset League Kicker of the Year in 2013.

Nathan Kirchmier, OL - American Heritage School, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound lineman was named by the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel 2013 first-team all-county.

Ephraim Lee, S - Marian Central Catholic High School, Lake in the Hills, Ill.
Lee was a first-team all-conference a first team all-area in 2013 and was also an academic all-state in 2013.

Ayman Mayberry, CB - Francis Parker School, Chula Vista, Calif.
The San Diego Union Tribune named the 5-foot-11 defensive back to the 2013 all-academic team, and his team won the 2013 conference championship with a 10-0 season.

Brandon Michel, CB - Phillips Academy, East Walpole, Mass.
Michel was named to the 2013 all-New England team and was also named his team MVP in 2013.

Brandon Mills, LB/RB - Mira Costa High School, Hawthorne, Calif.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker twice served as team captain and was also a two-time all-area and all-league honoree by the Daily Breeze.

Brandon Myden, DL - Oak Park High School, Oak Park, Calif.
Myden was first-team all-league, first-team all-section and second-team all-county in 2013.

Nick Neu, DE - Roncalli High School, Indianapolis, Ind.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound defensive end set his high school’s single-season record for tackles for loss with 32 in his senior season. He was also a two-time team defensive MVP.

Zach O’Leary, LS/LB - Lawrenceville School, Manteca, Calif.
The 6-foot-1 long snapper and linebacker was his school’s valedictorian.

Kylan Philbert-Richardson, S - Archbishop Williams High School, Randolph, Mass.
Philbert-Richardson was a two-time all-scholastic selection at high school and a two-time league all-star.

Nick Rittenhouse, QB - Space Coast High School, Cocoa, Fla.
Rittenhouse holds the single season and career school records in total yards, total touchdowns, completions and passing yards and is third all-time in state history with nine touchdowns (five passing, four rushing) in a single game.

Tre Solomon, RB - Xavier High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Solomon was a three-time team captain and team MVP.

Lukas Sontich, DE - Chagrin Falls High School, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Sontich was named to Ohio’s Top 200 Prospects by Scouting Ohio.

Austin Stapleton, OL - St. Joseph Region High School, Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.
His brother, Christian, currently is a wide receiver for Penn.

Drew Trabing, OL - Prior Lake High School, Prior Lake, Minn.
The 6-foot-4 lineman was first-team all-state, first-team all-conference and first-team all-metro in 2013.

Chibuzor Ugwu, DL - Hightower High School, Sugar Land, Texas
Ugwu was a four-time first-team all-district and a two-time all-city.

Louis Vecchio, DE - Villa Park High School, Orange, Calif.
Vecchio was a two-time all-section, two-time all-county, two-time all-league and a two-time Century League Lineman of the Year in football. He also played basketball.

Justin Watson, WR - South Fayette High School, Bridgeville, Pa.
Watson set league records in 2013 with 1,568 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns. Those numbers also placed him fourth and third in state history in those categories, respectively.

Alex Weber, LB - Chiawana High School, Pasco, Wash.
Weber won four league championships and the 2013 state title in high school. He was a two-time league MVP.

Gerhard Williams IV, Fleming Island High School, Fleming Island, Fla.
The 6-foot-6 lineman served as team captain in his senior season in which his team went 10-0 and won the 2013 division title.

Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

uspresswire-temple-trey-lowe.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple's Trey Lowe to redshirt as recovery from car accident continues

Temple head coach Fran Dunphy had a feeling some bad news would come regarding guard Trey Lowe's status for the coming season. On Friday, it was made official.

Lowe, a freshman who suffered serious upper-body injuries in a single-car crash in his native New Jersey last February, will miss all of the 2016-17 season and take a medical redshirt as he continues to recover, Dunphy announced on Friday.

"We all feel that this is in the best interest for Trey, as a person, a basketball player and a student," Dunphy said in a statement released by the university. "We feel at this time that concentrating on his rehabilitation this year will give him the best chance to come back strong and healthy for 2017-18. Trey will still be a big part of the team during this redshirt year, while continuing to work with our medical and strength team in preparation for his full return to action.”

Lowe was just starting to come into his own at the collegiate level around the time of the unfortunate accident. In a Feb. 17 game at the Liacouras Center against then-No.1 and eventual national champion Villanova, Lowe dropped a career-high 21 points. Though the Owls lost, 83-67, Lowe had made an impact and earned the trust of Dunphy, which isn't easy to do as a freshman.

A three-star recruit, Lowe played in all 28 games, including five starts, prior to his injury and averaged 4.8 points and 1.8 assists in 12.3 minutes per game. He would be a redshirt sophomore if he's ready to return for the 2017-18 season.

The absence of Lowe will leave the Owls particularly thin at guard this year. You may recall senior point guard Josh Brown, who was to be counted on as the Owls' leader this season, tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. His status for this season is still unknown as he continues to rehab from his injury.

Junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who averaged 11 points per game last season, is Temple's leading returning scorer.

The onus to produce at guard will be placed on redshirt senior Daniel Dingle and sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. True freshmen Quinton Rose and Alani Moore will also likely have to chip in.

They have just over a month to get ready. Temple hosts La Salle in both schools' season opener on Friday, Nov. 11 at the Liacouras Center.

Temple vs. SMU: Get ready for offensive firepower in AAC opener

temple-smu-matchup.jpg

Temple vs. SMU: Get ready for offensive firepower in AAC opener

Temple (2-2, 0-0 AAC) vs. SMU (2-2, 0-0 AAC)
Lincoln Financial Field
Saturday, Noon, ESPNews

If recent history tells us anything, we should expect to see some crooked numbers on Lincoln Financial Field’s scoreboard Saturday afternoon when SMU visits Temple in the conference opener for each team.

The last two times these AAC programs have met, the final scores have wound up 59-49 (a SMU win in Dallas in 2013) and 60-40 (a Temple win in Dallas last season).

Temple is coming off a 48-20 homecoming demolition of Charlotte. The game was basically over early in the second quarter, a frame in which the Owls scored 28 points to blow away the 49ers. SMU is coming off a 33-3 home loss to in-state rival TCU. The Mustangs hung tough for the first half and the score was 6-3 at the break, but the Big 12 powerhouse Horned Frogs took over in the second half.

Weather could play a factor Saturday, though, as current forecasts call for a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the Philadelphia area all afternoon.

Let’s take a closer look at Saturday’s the matchup.

Scouting Temple
The Owls’ offense has been in a much-needed groove since the second half of the narrow loss at Penn State two weeks ago.

Last week, Walker went 15 of 26 for 268 yards and two touchdowns – a 51-yard bomb to Adonis Jennings and a 40-yard quick strike to Brodrick Yancy. On the season, Walker has completed 57.8 percent of his passes for 846 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. His favorite target has been Keith Kirkwood, who has 14 grabs for 191 yards and two touchdowns through four games.

It should be no coincidence that Temple’s offensive revival has come with the return of star senior running back Jahad Thomas, who missed the first two games of the year with a dislocated left thumb. In the two games Thomas has played, he’s got 127 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Sophomore Ryquell Armstead, who also has four rushing scores, leads the Owls with 166 yards on the ground. Last year against SMU, then-freshman Jager Gardner ripped off a school-record 94-yard touchdown run.

One other offensive note: Temple head coach Matt Rhule was finally pleased with his offensive line after the way it played against Charlotte. Earlier this week, he praised offensive line coach George DeLeone and the job he’s done recently trying to get work out the issues on the line. The Owls didn’t give up a sack last week. True freshman Matt Hennessy started at left guard last week while redshirt sophomore Jaelin Robinson saw time at right tackle. Don’t be surprised if they see significant playing time again.

Two things have concerned Rhule defensively – a lackluster pass rush and the tendency to give up big plays.

Through four games, the Owls have yet to establish any sort of consistent pass rush. They have just four sacks through four games. They had 10 in last year’s opener against Penn State alone. The good news for Temple’s pass rush is that SMU starts a freshman QB and has given up nine sacks through four games, so opportunities to disrupt the pocket should be there on Saturday.

Temple’s defense has allowed 10 plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage this season, including a 66-yard touchdown run by Charlotte’s Kalif Phillips last week.

Injury-wise, the Owls are relatively healthy. Sophomore wideout Ventell Bryant, who was believed to be dealing with a shoulder injury, announced on his Instagram this week that he’d been cleared to play.

Scouting SMU
The Mustangs’ rebuilding efforts took a big hit during the first game of the season when senior quarterback Matt Davis, who played very well against Temple last season and hurt the Owls with both his arm and legs, was lost for the year with a knee injury. Redshirt freshman Ben Hicks has stepped in and his tenure so far hasn’t been so hot. He’s completed just 50 percent of his passes this year and has thrown just two touchdowns compared to seven picks.

Despite the inexperience and lack of production at quarterback, SMU will still push the tempo with a fast-paced offense that can rip off chunks of yardage instantly and averages 448 yards per game. A big reason for that is the play of sophomore wideout Cortland Sutton, who has 449 receiving yards and four touchdowns already this season. Sutton, whom Rhule had very high praise for earlier this week, averages 24.9 yards per reception. Sophomore tailback Braeden West is no slouch, either. He’s averaged 93.8 yards per game on the ground this season and has two rushing touchdowns.

Defensively, SMU has a couple of ballhawks in its secondary. The Mustangs are tied for tops in the nation with 10 interceptions through four games. Sophomore corner Jordan Wyatt is tied for the team lead in picks with three and also leads the Mustangs with 25 total tackles and two forced fumbles. Walker will have to be wary of where Wyatt is at on the field. Senior Horace Richardson also has three picks already for the Mustangs.

While SMU’s takeaway numbers are pretty, the Mustangs’ total defense numbers are ugly. They give up an average of 449.8 yards per game, which ranks 98th out of 128 teams in the FBS. The 27 points the Mustangs allow per game are good 70th in the FBS.

History
Saturday will mark the third meeting between the schools in the last four years and fifth overall. As mentioned above, the two teams combined for 208 points the last two times they’ve met. Those last two meetings have been the only meetings between Temple and SMU that have had definitive finals. They tied in both 1942 (6-6) and 1947 (7-7). So feel free to call Saturday’s game a rubber match.

Storyline to watch: Second test for Temple's secondary
Thus far this season, Temple has faced a triple-option team in Army, an FCS team in Stony Brook, a weapon-filled offense in Penn State and a second-year FBS team in Charlotte. Needless to say, Penn State was the only true test Temple's defense, specifically the new-look secondary, has had to face and it didn't go so well, especially in the first half when the Nittany Lions tore the Owls apart with slant plays for huge chunks of yardage. While the Owls' defense calmed down, the Nittany Lions still finished with 287 passing yards and 403 total yards. Temple's secondary will have its next test on Saturday with Sutton and SMU's receivers. Corners Derrek Thomas, Artrel Foster and Nate Hairston and safety Delvon Randall have a prime opportunity to gain more confidence against a young quarterback with a tendency to make mistakes. Junior safety Sean Chandler is still the unquestioned leader of the group.

What’s at stake: Getting conference play started on the right foot
If the Owls want to be taken as a serious threat to repeat in the AAC East, this is a game they have to have against an inferior SMU team. This is the first of nine straight AAC games, and even though SMU is in the AAC West, this game is still a tonesetter for rest of conference play. The Owls don’t want to fall behind right off the bat. And they really don’t want to fall behind right of the bat this week, with a short week and travel to Memphis for a game on Thursday looming. Yes, that’s two games in five days coming up for Temple.

Prediction
Even if the weather doesn’t hold out, points will be scored at the Linc on Saturday. Just not as many as the past couple of years. At this point in time, Temple just has more talent and it looks like the Owls are finally getting things in sync. Temple 38, SMU 21