When Temple and Villanova clash tonight in the Mayor’s Cup, Steve Addazio, Owls head coach, is expecting a big game from the Wildcats in this local matchup at Lincoln Financial Field. Addazio feels the Wildcats bring a lot of experience into this contest, which will begin at 7 p.m.
“We’re playing a Villanova team that obviously, last year, was a very inexperienced team,” Addazio said. “Now, they return eight starters on offense and 10 on defense. That’s a team coming back with all their guys. They got No. 8 Norman White who is an outstanding receiver. He’s a pro talent. He’s a big guy. He can go up and catch the ball and make plays on you. He’s a real threat.
“Chris Polony is their quarterback. He’s a guy who gets them in the right place. He brings consistency to their offense. He gets the ball to Norman White and players that can make plays. Austin Medley is their running back. He really came on at the end of last year. He’s a talented guy. They got a better offensive line coming back.
“On defense, Ronnie Akins is their safety. Their nose guard Antoine Lewis and their linebacker Dillon Lucas and Devon Bridges is a linebacker who runs like heck to the ball. I’m impressed with them.”
A year ago, Temple handled Villanova very easily, 42-7. The Wildcats did struggle with a lot of youth and inexperience last year. They finished the season with a 2-9 overall record. Villanova should be one of the top teams in the CAA this season, which happens to be one of the best FCS conferences in the nation.
Temple is coming off a 9-4 overall and a 5-3 record in the MAC (second East) in Addazio’s first year. In addition, Temple defeated Wyoming, 37-15, to win the New Mexico Bowl last season.
The Owls will miss running back Bernard Pierce who is a rookie for the Baltimore Ravens. Pierce surpassed Paul Palmer to end his collegiate career as the school’s all-time scoring leader with 324 points. Pierce also had 273 carries for 1,481 yards and 27 touchdowns. Temple will have to replace him. It looks as if they will use two running backs to bolster that ground attack with Matt Brown and Montel Harris.
Harris transferred to Temple for his fifth and final season of eligibility. He received his degree in communications from Boston College. The ACC’s all-time career rusher (3,735 yards), Harris leads all returning BCS players in career rushing yards.
Brown played extremely well last season. He had 916 yards and six touchdowns on 155 carries. Brown has been named to the All-Purpose Trophy Watch List. The 5-foot-5 running back handles kickoff and punt returns.
Offensively, the Owls will be led by junior quarterback Chris Coyer, who was named the Offensive MVP of the New Mexico Bowl completing 8-of-12 passes for 169 yards and rushed for 71 yards in the team’s victory. Temple also has junior signal caller Clinton “Juice” Granger from George Washington High. Granger provides the Owls with plenty of depth at quarterback.
This marks the 33rd meeting between the Owls and the Wildcats since 1908, renewing a 102-year old cross-town rivalry. The game is the last in a series of four Mayor’s Cup games. The Wildcats hold a 16-14-2 series advantage.
NOTES: Temple’s 2012 class of signees — three draftees in running back Bernard Pierce, tight end Evan Rodriguez and linebacker Tahir Whitehead and nine rookie free agents — set the school record for the largest NFL signing with 12 players.
Temple has certainly hired a coach who knows a lot about the football program. Matt Rhule was named the Owls new head football coach on Monday. Rhule, who has 15 years of coaching experience on the college and pro levels, will take the reins on North Broad Street.
Moreover, Rhule, a State College, Pa. native, and former Penn State player, is familiar with Temple football. He has 14 years of collegiate coaching experience, including six years at Temple and six bowl games—two with the Owls. Rhule most recently served as the assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants. As soon as the season is over, he’ll be at Temple on a regular basis.
But Rhule, 37, knows most of the players. He recruited several of them. And they’re excited to have him as their head coach.
“He was the coach here for six years before this,” said Chris Coyer, Temple quarterback. “He’s a coach who has been very endearing to a lot of players. A lot of the guys on the team love him. We all felt that he was the right guy for the job.”
During his previous tenure with the Owls, his role changed on several occasions. Last spring, he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator after serving as the assistant offensive coordinator and tight ends coach as well as the recruiting coordinator under Steve Addazio in 2011. Addazio recently left Temple to become the head coach at Boston College. Temple’s 2012 recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference. Rhule helped to lay the foundation for the program’s transition to the Big East Conference.
Under former Temple coach Al Golden, Rhule was promoted to offensive coordinator in the spring of 2008. He also coached the Owls quarterbacks. He coached the defensive line in 2006 and served as the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
In 2011, the Owls posted a 9-4 record and played in their fourth bowl game in school history, the New Mexico Bowl, where Temple defeated Wyoming, 37-15. It was the school’s first postseason win since the 1979 Garden State Bowl. Rhule mentored two-time first-team All-MAC selection tight end Evan Rodriguez. For the second time in his tenure, the Owls set the school single-season rushing yardage record and rushing touchdowns record behind the explosive efforts of All-MAC running backs Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown.
In 2010, he led the offense to the largest margin of victory in a MAC game. Rhule helped the team post an 8-4 regular-season record. The Owls put together two consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1978-79, including their first win over a BCS team.
In 2009, Rhule’s offense helped the Owls win a single-season record nine consecutive games en route to a 9-4 overall mark and a first place tie in the MAC East. Under his tutelage, the Owls set the Temple single-season rushing yardage record.
In 2008, he started as offensive coordinator, guiding Temple to its most wins in nearly 20 years. The Owls out-scored their opponents for the season for the first time since 1990. Bruce Francis, former Owls wide receiver, set school records for career receiving touchdowns (23) and consecutive games with a reception.
Rhule came to Temple from Western Carolina, where he was an assistant for four years. The Owls new head coach will try to get the team back on the winning track. Temple finished the season with a 2-5 league mark and a 4-7 overall record.
The players are happy to have him back. Rhule is happy to be back at Temple, too. Pretty soon he’ll have a chance to hit the recruiting trail in the Philadelphia area.
“It will always start right here in our footprint and really right here within the city itself,” Rhule said. “My philosophy is going to be this. We’re going to recruit and relentlessly recruit everybody within this one hour radius.”
If Rhule can do that, he’ll be off to a good start as Temple’s head football coach.
Ramaan Ansley, former Engineering and Science star, helped Saint Augustine’s College win 43 Division II All-Atlantic Region awards from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) this week. The men’s team had the second most all-region honors (26) among NCAA Division II men’s teams and the Lady Falcons earned 17 all-region honors.
The ex-Public League standout participated in the 100 meters and was a member of the 4x100-meter relay team. Ansley runs for legendary track and field head coach George Williams, who brings the Falcons to the Penn Relays each year.
Matt Balasavage signs free agent contract with Baltimore Ravens
Matt Balasavage, Temple tight end, has signed a rookie free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
Balasavage, a three-year starter for the Owls, played in 12 games in 2011 with nine starts. He received his degree in communications in May 2011. He joins NFL draftees running back Bernard Pierce (Baltimore Ravens), tight end Evan Rodriguez (Chicago Bears) and linebacker Tahir Whitehead (Detroit Lions) as well as rookie free agents offensive lineman Pat Boyle (Detroit Lions), defensive end Morkeith Brown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), offensive lineman Derek Dennis (Miami Dolphins), linebacker Stephen Johnson (New Orleans Saints), defensive end Adrian Robinson (Pittsburgh Steelers) wide receiver Rod Streater (Oakland Raiders) and offensive lineman Wayne Tribue (Denver Broncos).
Chester Stewart signs free agent contract with Ravens
Quarterback Chester Stewart became the 12th Temple Owl to sign with an NFL team this spring, extending the school record for the largest class.
Stewart signed a rookie contract with Baltimore Ravens, joining former Owl teammate running back Bernard Pierce and Matt Balasavage on the Ravens’ roster. Stewart played in 10 games with six starts as a senior in 2011. He was named the Baltimore Sun/Next Level Player of the Week following a perfect 9-of-9 for 140 yards in the win at Maryland. Stewart earned his degree in criminal justice in December 2011.
NLBM, Rawlings pair up for “Gold Glove” Negro Leagues tribute
Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., a subsidiary of Jarden Corporation and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) have teamed to honor the Negro Leagues by bestowing commemorative Rawlings Gold Glove Awards to the league’s best defensive players of all time. The partnership includes a series of events planned to raise awareness and financial support for the NLBM, a not-for-profit organization located in Kansas City, Mo.
A panel comprised of six baseball dignitaries will select candidates for consideration for each of the nine Rawlings Gold Glove Award positions. The selection panel members include: Phil Dixon, baseball historian and author; Monte Irvin, Negro Leagues legend and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee; Bob Kendrick, NLBM president; Joe Posnanski, senior writer for USA Today Sports Group and MLBAM; Dr. Layton Revel, Center for Negro Leagues research; James Riley, baseball historian and author.
The Negro League Rawlings Gold Glove Award team will be unveiled at the NLBM on June 28. The dynamic double play tandem of Frank White (eight Rawlings Gold Glove Awards) and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (13 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards) will host the ceremonies.
The Temple Owls were well represented in the NFL draft last week. Bernard Pierce, Temple’s All-American running back, was selected in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens. Pierce, former Glen Mills standout from Ardmore, was the 84th pick overall in the draft.
He is the 62nd Temple football player chosen in the NFL draft since 1937. Pierce is the first Temple player to be picked by the Ravens (since 1996) in school history and the fourth Owl to be selected by a Baltimore NFL team, joining Colts’ selections defensive back Anthony Young (1985), running back Mark Bright (1980) and quarterback Steve Joachim (1975).
As a junior, Pierce became the Owls’ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (53), total touchdowns (54), and points scored (324). He also set the season records for rushing TDs (27), total TDs (27), points scored (162), and 100-yard rushing games (9), while setting game records for rushing TDs in a game (five at Maryland) and points scored (30 at Maryland). He was also named ECAC Offensive Player of the Year and the 2009 MAC Freshman of the Year.
The Chicago Bears selected Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez with the 16th pick of the fourth round (111th pick overall), while the Detroit Lions chose linebacker Tahir Whitehead with the third pick of the fifth round (138th overall) of the draft. That brings the total to three players drafted from Temple.
Rodriguez, who played in the East–West Shrine Game, is a two-time first-team All-MAC selection. He played in all 13 games with 12 starts at tight end. He led the Owls with 479 yards and two touchdowns on 35 receptions.
Whitehead was a second-team All-MAC selection, and the defensive MVP of the New Mexico Bowl. He finished third in team tackling with 70 tackles, a team-best 13.5 tackles-for-loss of 66 yards, five sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Seven Temple players have signed rookie free agent contracts with NFL teams, bringing the Owls total NFL signees to 10, tying the largest class in school history. The players who have reportedly signed: Pat Boyle, offensive lineman, Detroit Lions; Morkeith Brown, defensive end, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Derek Dennis, offensive lineman, Miami Dolphins; Stephen Johnson, linebacker, New Orleans Saints; Adrian Robinson, defensive end, Pittsburgh Steelers; Rod Streater, wide receiver, Oakland Raiders and Wayne Tribue, offensive lineman, Denver Broncos.
Bernard Hopkins, light heavyweight world champion, celebrated his 47th birthday with the unveiling of the new Bernard Hopkins wax figure, which was created by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Hopkins became the oldest fighter in boxing history to win a world title in May 2011.
Alvin named CIAA Player, Newcomer of the Week
Malik Alvin, former Simon Gratz star who plays for Shaw University, has been named the CIAA Player and Newcomer of the Week. Alvin has averaged 22 points a game in Shaw University’s three victories. Alvin scored 28 points for the Bears in a 103-89 victory over Chowan. He also had six assists in that game. He has scored 28 points four times this season.
Baseball Hall of Fame internship program
For any college student who are interested in landing an once-in-a-lifetime summer experience in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2012 internship program, can apply for the 2012 Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development. The internship program provides students the chance to join the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum team in a 10-week summer internship, offering meaningful, hands-on training in numerous professional career fields.
The Baseball Hall of Fame is located in Cooperstown, New York. For full details on the program, go to www.baseballhall.org/intern. January 31 is the deadline for all applications. You have to apply online.
Cheyney University’s Simone Carter sets new mark
Simone Carter, Cheyney University track and field star, set a new school record in the 60 meter dash covering the distance in 7.60 to win the event last Saturday night at the Armory in New York. It was the fourth fastest time in Division II this season. In addition, Carter finished fourth in the 200 meters with a time of 25.10 that night, which is also a school record.
Evan Rodriguez to play in East-West Shrine Game
Evan Rodriguez, Temple tight end, has been selected to play in the 87th East–West Shrine Game on Saturday, January 21 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The game will be televised on the NFL Network, kicking off at 4 p.m. from Tropicana Field. Rodriguez joins Owl teammate offensive lineman Derek Dennis on the East roster, coached by former Army coach Bobby Ross.
Kee-ayre Griffin to play in Astro Turf NFLPA Bowl
Kee-ayre Griffin, Temple defensive back, has been selected to play in the inaugural Astro Turf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday, January 21, the NFL Players Association recently announced. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. on NBC Sports. The defensive back will be one of 100 draft-eligible players competing at The Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California.
La Salle’s Duren named Big 5 Player of the Week
Tyreek Duren, La Salle sophomore guard, has been named the Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Week. Duren averaged 17.0 points and 4.5 assists while making 11 of his 14 attempts in a week which the Explorers defeated city rival Penn and dropped a close contest at Dayton.
Drexel’s Damion Lee named CAA Rookie of the Week
Damion Lee, Drexel freshman guard, has been named Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week. It was the second time this season that he has earned this honor. Lee averaged 17.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in Drexel’s two victories this week. He tied a career-high when he scored 21 points in Drexel’s 60-53 win over George Mason.