Red-shirt juniors Alex Derenthal and Leyon Azubuike are two of more than 20 players who participated in a Temple football training camp before coach Al Golden arrived on campus on Dec. 5, 2005.
Azubuike said training camp became more demanding under Golden. The high-tempo practices caught some players by surprise last season, but now the team knows what is expected when two-a-days start, the defensive end said.
“Players committed themselves to getting bigger and stronger in the weight room, as well as faster,” Azubuike said. “Now that we did that, we’re able to come out here and practice at a sustained level of intensity. The conditioning that we did [in the offseason] allows us to do that.”
While Azubuike has shifted from tight end to outside linebacker to defensive end in the past three seasons, Derenthal has started 23 consecutive games at center. Despite his substantial amount of experience, Derenthal said he still gets a lot out of camp.
“There’s always something I can learn and I’ve tried to learn something new everyday, whether it’s about the defense we’re playing or a new offensive package that we’re implementing,” he said. “I just try to perfect my techniques little by little.”
CLASS OF ‘07
The Owls have the largest recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference with more than 25 new players hoping to suit up for the first time this season.
“A lot of [the recruits] have been stepping up and playing huge roles on offense, defense and special teams,” Derenthal said.
Matt Balasavage, a 6-foot-5-inch, 240-pound tight end from Lancaster, Pa., is “probably the biggest surprise of the whole recruiting class,” Golden said.
“He’s been running with the first team for about a week and he and Kevin Armstrong are fighting it out right now for the tight end,” Golden said.
One of the most highly-touted recruits, Daryl Robinson, was a running back and cornerback at Northeast Catholic High. Robinson, a Scout.com four-star prospect, is currently listed as an “athlete” on the Owls roster.
Another prized recruit, Chester Stewart, a 6-3, 195-pound quarterback from Hanover, Md., threw for 1,348 yards and 17 touchdowns while leading Dematha Catholic High to a 12-0 record as a senior.
“We’ve learned a lot about Chester that we didn’t know,” Golden said. “We didn’t know how passionate he was about his preparation. He’s got the talent. He just needs some time to develop and learn the system.”
Interior offensive linemen Lloyd Codada, Colin Madison and Derek Dennis have shown promise in practice.
“They’re all in the mix right now to go on the bus to the opening game,” Golden said. “Madison, I like his attitude on the field. He likes to finish plays and he’s not afraid to get dirty. The same thing applies for Codada.”
Golden cited Michael Campbell, a 6-2 wide receiver, as a potential factor on special teams.
On defense, Morris Blueford, Jr., a 6-4, 230-pound defensive end from Chesapeake, Va., has been starting at rush end for the majority of camp, Golden said. He also said defensive backs Jamal Schulters, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Jemarr Anderson have received significant time in the secondary during practices.
Freshman running back Joe Jones is out for the season after sustaining a ruptured left Achilles tendon on Aug. 10. The 5-11 Davie, Fla.-native suffered the injury in a non-contact drill during the team’s afternoon practice session.
Dale Parris, a redshirt freshman wide receiver who fractured his right ankle in practice on Aug.13, is also out for the season, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Saturday.
– Tyson McCloud