Temple Inks 27 to LOIs on National Signing Day

Temple Inks 27 to LOIs on National Signing Day

The Temple University Football Owls have signed 27 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. In a press conference to announce those commitments on Wednesday, head coach Steve Addazio called it "the best incoming class in the history of Temple football." The 2012 class has been ranked the No. 1 in the MAC by Yahoo! Rivals.

Despite losing Bernard Pierce to the NFL Draft, the Owls still boast tremendous depth at the running back position. With Matt Brown, Kenny Harper and Spencer Reid already in house, Archbishop Wood product Brandon Peoples and Ocala, Florida recruit Jamie Gilmore join the ranks, with Gilmore potentially capable of contributing right away.

In character, Addazio was hesitant to commit to any decisions related to the depth chart with the season still months away, but did leave the door open for the possibility of a running back by committee. That said, as Addazio will so often remind those who ask, all options are always available and all hands are always on deck.

That, of course, brings us once more to the quarterback position. Unsettled for the last two seasons, the quarterback question almost looked answered at the end of last season, given the emergence and ensuing success of sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer. But now, the addition of Kevin Newsome could cause yet another QB controversy for Owls fans.

Newsome is a former four-star recruit who originally committed to the Nittany Lions of Penn State. After serving as the backup to Daryll Clark in 2009, Newsome was named co-starter alongside Matt McGloin in 2010 before both would lose the job to Rob Bolden. Newsome would transfer before last season, spending 2011 studying at a community college in Virginia. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Early in the press conference, Addazio spoke with enthusiasm about having his passing game settled, after the turnover from Gerardi to Stewart to Coyer last season. When asked, the coach gave Coyer the John-Elway-Tim-Tebow vote of confidence, stating that Coyer had earned the starting spot heading into camp, but guaranteeing little else. It is clear Addazio will continue his mantra that all positions are up for grabs so as to downplay what is in his own words "a sense of complacency." While that policy certainly makes sense, and makes few, if any, waves at other positions, the quarterback position carries with it a greater deal of importance and scrutiny. A controversy isn't guaranteed for next season, but it wouldn't be surprising either.

Other notable names in this year's class include DL Averee Robsinson (brother of Temple alum Adrian Robinson), LB Bret Niederreither (who received offers from other high-profile schools including West Virginia), WR Khalif Herbin (The 2011 New Jersey Star-Ledger State Offensive Player of the Year), and safety Nate Smith (who helped lead Archbishop Wood to 2011 Pennsylvania State Championship).

Much as in 2011, Addazio spoke at length about the importance of establishing a recruiting footprint in the Northeast. 20 of the 27 signees are from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with 14 from PA alone. Eight are from Southeastern Pennsylvania, with seven of those coming from the Philadelphian metropolitan area (four are from the Catholic and Public Leagues). The remainder of the class comes from Maryland (4), Florida (2) and Virginia (1). Of the 27, 20 have previously attended the Temple Football Camp.

Of note, 10 of the signees played in All-Star games following their Senior season, while four -- Michael Felton, Kyle Friend, Damiere Shaw, Kiser Terry -- are scheduled to play in the famed Big 33 Game on June 16 at Hersheypark Stadium.

Below is a position by position breakdown of the number of new team members at each position:

Quarterback (1)
Running Back (2)
Wide Receiver (6)
Offensive Line (3)
Defensive Line (6)
Linebacker (5)
Defensive Back (7)

Temple will open its 2012 season against Villanova in the Fourth Annual Mayor's Cup. It is the final game of the current agreement signed between the schools.

Eagles' rookies get their first taste of what Dallas week entails

Eagles' rookies get their first taste of what Dallas week entails

At the conclusion of his weekly Wednesday radio show on 94WIP, Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan was asked about the Dallas Cowboys and the rivalry game on tap this weekend.

First, he said he and his teammates don’t need any extra motivation for this one. But before he got off his mic — in a few seconds that didn’t make it on the air — Logan eloquently dropped a “F--- Dallas.”

Logan gets it.

No, maybe the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry isn’t what it once was. Maybe the days of Seth Joyner refusing to think about signing with the Cowboys because he just couldn’t wear a star on the side of his helmet have passed. But there’s still some bad blood. It’s still a rivalry. And fans in the Delaware Valley still care about two things: winning football games and beating Dallas.

Logan has been with the Eagles since 2013, so he understands. For Carson Wentz and his fellow rookies, this will be their first crack at it.

“I know how much this means to the city, how much it means to these fans,” Wentz said. “There’s a lot of excitement going on just with Eagles football, but definitely this week. I recognize that.

“But at the same time, I don’t let that bother me or let it distract me from the main goal and that’s just preparing every day. Because I know if I get sidetracked by any of those things, it’s going to mess up the preparation and it’ll affect the game on Sunday.”

Head coach Doug Pederson emphasized the importance of “business as usual,” but admitted this rivalry isn’t just usual. He’s been a part of it as a player in 1999 and as a coach under Andy Reid.

He took the correct coach approach on Wednesday, saying the Cowboys game is important because it’s a division game. And it’s even more important because the Eagles lost their first division game a couple weeks ago in Washington.

“It is a little bit different, but our guys have just got to come ready to play, and it's a road game,” Pederson said.

While this is Jalen Mills’ first time being a part of the rivalry as a player, he was raised near Dallas in DeSoto, Texas, and grew up with it as a part of his life. The most important games of the year, he remembered, were Cowboys-Eagles and Washington on Thanksgiving.

Mills said the rivalry was a “pretty big deal” in his house as a youngster. Now, he finds it pretty cool that he gets to be a part of it.

“Oh man, no doubt,” Mills said. “It’s an experience that I can’t wait to experience, but it’s going to be exciting.”

The defensive back said, without hesitation, the biggest rivalry he’s ever been a part of before was LSU-Alabama. The most important thing he learned from those games is that execution is key. It’s OK to buy into the hype during the week, but he realized it was counterproductive to change anything about preparation.

“You can’t get caught up in it,” Mills said. “Of course you’re going to hear about it, like right now before the game. But once that clock starts, it’s all about just playing sound football.”

Like Mills, Halapoulivaati Vaitai grew up in the Dallas area (Haltom City) and has been around the rivalry his whole life. In fact, both rookies have previously played games at AT&T Stadium. Sunday will be the first time Vaitai’s parents get a chance to see an NFL game. Eagles-Cowboys is a pretty good start.

And it’s not just Eagles rookies who are getting ready to experience the rivalry for the first time. Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott will live it for the first time on Sunday too.

How much does he know about the rivalry?

“A little bit, man,” he said on a conference call with Philly reporters this week. “I grew up a Cowboys fan. I can’t tell you certain games or things like that from the past. But I’ve always known it to be a good game anytime they meet up and a good rivalry in the division.”

Nah, not exactly Logan-like responses from these guys. But give them time. They’re rookies.

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Gunn's Bullet Points: Flags could fly in secondary for Eagles-Cowboys

Some notes and keys ahead of Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game:

• Since throwing for 301 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 3, Carson Wentz's aerial numbers have declined — 238 yards in Detroit, 179 in Washington and 138 vs. Minnesota.

• Even though he missed two games with an injury, I still can't understand how Zach Ertz has been targeted only 16 times in four games this season.

• Dallas WR Cole Beasley is arguably the best slot receiver in the game right now. Last November against the Eagles, he had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. With the Eagles' best slot cornerback, Ron Brooks, out for the year with a ruptured quad tendon, Malcolm Jenkins will have his hands full trying to keep up with Beasley in the slot.

• Eagles and Cowboys defensive backs beware: Jerome Boger's crew is officiating this game. This season, Boger's crew has called 36 penalties for defensive pass interference, illegal contact or defensive holding.

• The Eagles' 20 sacks ties them for third-most in the league. Dallas has allowed just nine, second-fewest in the NFL.

• Does Doug Pederson still have faith in RB Ryan Mathews late in games? Mathews has fumbled with less than five minutes left in two of the last three games. The head coach says he has not lost faith in Mathews, and Mathews says he'll stop fighting for more yards late in games. Time will tell.