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.

On verge of Super Bowl, Eric Rowe responds to Eagles, Roseman

On verge of Super Bowl, Eric Rowe responds to Eagles, Roseman

The Eagles' season ended a few weeks ago with a 7-9 record. 

In a couple weeks, Eric Rowe might be playing in the Super Bowl. 

Rowe, of course was the Eagles second-round pick in 2015 and went on to have a promising rookie season. But in 2016, the change of head coaches brought a new defensive coordinator and a new scheme, which Rowe apparently didn't fit. So a few days before the season began, he was dealt to the New England, where he has become a big part of their defense. 

In his after-the-season press conference on Jan. 4, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked about the trade and gave a somewhat curious answer. He said the team made the move because the front office had already determined they were not going to give Rowe an extension, even though he wouldn't have been eligible for two more seasons. 

If that sounded weird to Eagles fans, they weren't alone. It sounded weird to Rowe too, when the Wilmington News Journal's Martin Frank caught up with him this week. 

“That’s a long time away," Rowe said. "If that’s the reason, that’s really, really weird. You know, it’s whatever. If he thinks that, then I guess that’s what it was. They’re thinking way down the line.” 

Rowe, 24, ended up starting seven games during this regular season for New England, but played just 43 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps. If Rowe played 50 percent of defensive snaps in 2016 or if he does it in 2017, the fourth-round pick the Eagles get back in the trade will turn into a third-rounder, so there's still a chance next year. 

While a third-round pick wouldn't be bad, the Eagles gave up on a young, talented corner just a year after drafting him because he didn't fit what they wanted to do. 

Shortly after the trade, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz called Rowe a good cover corner but cited the development of Jalen Mills as a reason why Rowe became expendable. Schwartz said he appreciated Rowe, but the personnel staff "decided to use him as an asset, and as coaches, we just deal with that and keep playing." 

It was pretty clear during training camp that Rowe had fallen out of favor with the Eagles. He was buried behind Mills and others on the depth chart, so maybe the trade was the best thing for him. 

"That was frustrating, just kind of like thinking, 'What am I doing wrong?'" Rowe said to the Wilmington News Journal. "Yeah, I made mistakes, but everybody makes mistakes. I'm not making bad mistakes. I'm making plays. Why am I sliding down? That was frustrating times. I would just go home and my girlfriend's there, and I'm telling her all this stuff. I'd tell my parents, and they're like, 'Just keep your head up, just keep working because you never know. Then boom, the trade comes up." 

And now he might get a chance to play in the Super Bowl, while the Eagles desperately need to fix their cornerback position before next season. 

Sixers-Trail Blazers 5 things: Streaking Sixers meet tough stretch

Sixers-Trail Blazers 5 things: Streaking Sixers meet tough stretch

Sixers vs. Trail Blazers
7 p.m. on CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

Coming off of an impressive win over the Raptors Wednesday, the Sixers (14-26) welcome the Trail Blazers (18-26) to the Wells Fargo Center on Friday night for the first game of a back-to-back. 

Here’s what to watch for the matchup:

1.  Streaking Sixers
What a new year it’s been for the Sixers.

Winning seven of their last nine games has Joel Embiid thinking playoffs. The Sixers are 5½ games out of the eighth seed in the East, and should get even better if (or when) Ben Simmons makes his debut.

With five teams ahead of them, it seems unlikely the Sixers get in, but why not enjoy the streak while it lasts and give Embiid and the youngsters a taste of their first success in the NBA?

2. Heating up
Speaking of enjoying the streak while it lasts, the schedule gets tougher from here on out.

With five sets of back-to-backs over the next two weeks, the team will be forced to play at least five games without Embiid. And the difference with "The Process" on the floor and off is staggering. The Sixers are 12-17 with Embiid, but a putrid 2-9 without the rookie sensation. Much of that can be attributed to Embiid’s stellar defense and Jahlil Okafor’s um, less than stellar, whatever he calls what he does on the defensive end.

3. Super Dario
Dario Saric’s improved play has been another catalyst for the hot streak. Saric has elevated his game during the 7-2 run, raising his numbers in points and rebounds, giving the Sixers a solid second unit. In fact, Saric is second (behind Embiid) among rookies in points (9.7) and rebounds (5.9) per game. 

“If Joel Embiid weren’t in the league, you’d have to talk about him in consideration for Rookie of the Year,” head coach Brett Brown said after Wednesday’s win.

4. Another one
After slowing the Raptors' All-Star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry on Wednesday, the Sixers face another dynamic backcourt in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. The duo averages a combined 49.5 points per game, nearly half (46 percent) of the Blazers' total points per game.

Luckily for the Sixers, the Blazers are an abysmal 7-17 on the road this year, including 5-10 vs. the Eastern Conference. 

5. This and that
• The Blazers have given up an average of 114 points over their three-game losing streak. The Sixers have scored 114 or more points in five of their 30 games this season. 

• The Sixers are 3-4 in the first game of back-to-backs and 1-6 in the second leg. The Sixers face the Hawks Saturday.

• After signing a four-year, $70 million contract with the Blazers in the offseason, former Sixer Evan Turner is averaging 9.4 points, 3.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, all down from his four-year average while with the Sixers. 

• Nearly every Sixer received a player vote for the All-Star Game: Embiid (43), Sergio Rodriguez (8), T.J. McConnell (4), Okafor (4), Simmons (3), Jerryd Bayless (2), Robert Covington (2), Nerlens Noel (2), Gerald Henderson (1), Ersan Ilyasova (1), Richaun Holmes (1), Timothe Luwawu-Cabbarot (1), Saric (1).