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:
Running Back (2)
Wide Receiver (6)
Offensive Line (3)
Defensive Line (6)
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.