Sports

Geoff Collins’ first signing day at Temple is in the books

New football coach Geoff Collins signed 16 recruits for the Class of 2017 recruiting class.

Geoff Collins ditched the suit and tie he wore at his introductory press conference in December for a three-quarter zipup and a pair of jeans on Wednesday at Edberg-Olson Hall.

Even though he was out on the road recruiting for most of January, Collins is starting to feel at home at Temple.

Collins took the podium on Wednesday afternoon for the first time since his introduction at Temple in order to discuss his first recruiting class with the Owls.

“When we sat down and really started putting a plan together on how we were going to get the recruiting class done and make this march to signing day, the biggest priority was that they fit in with our [current] players,” Collins said.

Collins had two and a half weeks to keep the recruiting class Matt Rhule had built at Temple and add onto it.

Temple’s added 16 high school recruits and a graduate transfer on national signing day. The Owls are still waiting on the decision from offensive lineman Chris Jimenez from Perkiomen Valley High School, who verbally committed to Temple but has yet to sign his National Letter of Intent.

“I was filling needs,” Collins said. “We lost some on defense, lost some key players on offense. … A big thing I’ve learned through my career is making sure the players that you sign have position flexibility. If you look at the guys we signed, they have position flexibility.

Last year, Temple made a splash on signing day by getting a commitment from Prep Charter defensive end Karamou Dioubate, who was rated a four-star prospect by Rivals.com. Rivals rated Temple’s 2016 recruiting class No. 60 in the Football Bowl Subdivision while Scout.com and 247sports.com rated it No. 76 and No. 58, respectively.

This year is the first time since 2013 Temple doesn’t have at least one prospect rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.

Rivals rated Temple’s 2017 outside of the Top 100, while Scout rated Temple No. 123 out of 129 FBS teams and 247sports rated the Owls’ class No. 112. Three-star prospects Gary Brightwell (Arizona University), Raheem Blackshear (Rutgers University), Ja’Sir Taylor (Wake Forest University), Marvin Beander (Norfolk State) and Rob Saulin (Baylor University) all decommitted from Temple over the last month.

Collins said earlier this week he put up high school highlight reels and recruiting bios of his current roster, which is coming off back-to-back 10 win seasons, in order to show his team the limited value in the rankings.

“The kids were coming up to me saying, ‘Coach there’s a bunch of two stars, there’s a bunch of no stars, coach there’s some kids that don’t even have pictures on their bios,’” Collins said. “That doesn’t matter. If you can play, you’re a great athlete, you’re willing to work hard, that’s what this place is built on.”

Temple’s three highest rated prospects are Florida quarterback Todd Centeio, Sewickley, Pennsylvania offensive lineman Griffin Sestelli and Maryland defensive lineman Malik Burns.

Colliins said Burns’ versatility intrigued him. He said Burns can play either defensive end or running back for the Owls.

Centeio, who is already enrolled at the university, could be in the quarterback competition with redshirt-junior Frank Nutile, redshirt-sophomore Logan Marchi and redshirt-freshman Anthony Russo this summer.

“He’s got that it factor to him,” Collins said. “You can see when he walks into a room he’s got a little something about him. He’s got arm talent, very accurate quarterback, and when he needs to escape the pocket he has that ability.”

The recruiting class features three players from Philadelphia — Central High School athlete Collin Washington, Neumann-Goretti athlete Emil Moody and South Philadelphia High School linebacker Casey Williams.

Three other recruits are from Pennsylvania, while two recruits are from New Jersey.

“A big emphasis as well was Philadelphia and the surrounding counties,” Collins said.

“We’re committed to getting the great players and the great coaches involved with football in this area in Temple and in this building,” he later added.

Owen McCue can be reached at owen.mccue@temple.edu or on Twitter @Owen_McCue. Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.

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