The Temple News breaks down the position battles during spring football.
The Cherry and White game, the football team’s annual spring contest, is on Saturday and will offer the public its first look at new head coach Steve Addazio’s squad. Addazio has repeatedly stated throughout the offseason that every position is up for grabs, but here’s a look at some of the key competitors.
All of last year’s quarterbacks return and the competition is wide open. Redshirt-senior Chester Stewart, redshirt-sophomore Chris Coyer and redshirt-junior Mike Gerardi all figure to be in the mix. Stewart and Gerardi split starting duties last season while Coyer gained playing time toward the end of the year. Stewart and Gerardi passed for 842 and 1,290 yards respectively last season, while Coyer completed two passes for 47 yards while also averaging 3.4 yards per carry on the ground.
Addazio wants to run a form of the spread offense that he utilized at Florida, so a quarterback’s mobility will be key. Coyer is the most elusive of the group, but Gerardi and Stewart can run a little when necessary.
Keep an eye on Coyer’s recent hand injury. The Virginia native recently broke his non-throwing hand in practice, which could limit him.
While senior Rod Streater returns, the Owls must look to replace wide receiver Michael Campbell, who caught 45 passes for 724 yards and six touchdowns – all team highs. Assuming Streater, who finished the year second on the team with 30 catches and 481 yards, retains his starting position, there will still be plenty of playing time up for grabs.
Sophomore Deon Miller and junior Malcom Eugene, a junior college transfer, will be two of the main competitors for the starting spot.
Miller caught six passes for 65 yards last season while starting one game. The 6-foot-5-inch wideout has a distinct size advantage on cornerbacks and was oftentimes used in goal-line situations last season.
Eugene, a 6-foot-4-inch product of Brooklyn’s Advanced Software Analysis College, was a junior college All-American last season as he caught 49 passes for 898 yards and eight touchdowns.
Senior Joe Jones, who has started 16 games in his career between running back and wide receiver, also figures to compete.
Pretty much every position in Temple’s secondary is up for grabs. Jaiquawn Jarrett is expected to hear his name called at this month’s National Football League draft, so free safety is obviously a big hole to fill for the Owls.
Senior Deonte Parker is considered the front runner to replace Jarrett, but players like junior Vaughn Carraway, a converted wide receiver, and sophomore Matt Falcone will also compete.
Senior Kevin Kroboth and junior Justin Gildea will compete for the starting strong safety job. Kroboth and Gildea split time at the position last season, starting six and eight games, respectively.
At cornerback, senior Kee-ayre Griffin, sophomore Abdul Smith, sophomore Zamel Johnson and junior Maurice Jones are among the players competing for a starting spot. Griffin and Jones started a combined 13 games at corner for the Owls last season.
Out of the group, Smith, a Rutgers transfer, is probably the most intriguing. Coming out of high school, Smith chose Rutgers over offers from Auburn, Penn State and Wisconsin, among others.
Amara Kamara and Elijah Joseph have graduated from the linebacking corps, but some experience remains.
Seniors Tahir Whitehead, who started eight games last season while recording 56 tackles, and Quentin White Jr. are the likely front-runners to claim the starting outside linebacker positions. Senior Stephen Johnson, a former walk-on that started three games last season, will compete for the starting middle linebacker position.
Pushing the trio for playing time will be a sophomore group, including Olaniyi Adewole, Mike Beatty, Wyatt Benson, Blaze Caponegro and Zach Kane.
Benson started one game last season, but it wasn’t at linebacker. A versatile athlete, Benson lined up at fullback against Bowling Green. Before coming to Temple, Benson was part of an all-star squad that played against international competition in the 2010 Global Bowl. Benson’s squad defeated the Brussels All Stars, 83–0.
Kane, who originally signed with Miami out of high school before going to prep school for a year, was highly recruited out of high school. Kane chose Miami over offers from Cincinnati and Iowa.
The Cherry and White game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Edburg-Olson practice facility and is expected to run until 5 p.m.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.