Most football teams can play with one or several players injured and still perform well.
One man the Temple Owls football team cannot afford to have injured is defensive end/tackle Dan Klecko.
In Temple’s first game against the Richmond Spiders, Klecko was unable to play because of injury. Against Oregon State, Klecko recorded one tackle for a loss.
The Owls, however, played well against their Division 1-AA opponent. Even though they blew out the Spiders 34-7, the Temple football team would tell you they missed one of their leaders in Klecko.
Klecko is on three award watch lists. He predicted to be a nominee for the Rotary Lombardi, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and Outland Trophy awards.
He is the sixth-ranked player in the Big East Conference (according to CollegeFootballNews.com), a preseason All-American candidate, and has put a jolt into the defensive line that is arguably the best part of Temple’s football team.
How could you not miss a player like this in any situation?
Head coach Bobby Wallace and teammates alike refer to Klecko as an All-American player.
After being here for four years and having gone through losing seasons, Klecko is undoubtedly more concerned about winning football game.
When Klecko sat out the Richmond game, his injury was not the only thing bothering him.
“Last week killed me,” said Klecko of his absence, “but it’s nice to be back.”
In past years, Klecko played primarily defensive tackle, but moved to rush end at the conclusion of last season’s spring drills.
With the move to another part of the defensive line, some would expect Klecko to have trouble adjusting.
In Thursday’s loss to Oregon State, Klecko was very active on the defensive line, and looked more than comfortable even though this was his first college game at rush end.
In this critical season, Wallace and Temple will look to Klecko for leadership on the defensive line.
“I do think we lost some excellent players up front,” Wallace said. “But I do think there is a little inexperience.”
With this inexperience, Klecko’s role on the front line will be increased.
Though this should not be a problem for a player like Klecko who has continually proven his ability to get to the quarterback and stop the run.
While relatively undersized at 6-feet-1-inch and 276 pounds, Klecko continues to wow football critics across the country.
“He’s a mortal lock to finish with All-Big East honors and a dark horse for All-America teams,” according to CollegeFootballNews.com.
“He’s a terror at getting into the backfield and the focus of every opposing team’s offensive game plan.”
What’s more terrifying is the Big East is ready to sever their ties with the Owls, and the boys on North Broad Street need to make a convincing case for themselves so they can continue to play in a highly competitive conference.
Klecko is the best player on a solid defense that last year ranked 19th in the country.
Because of Temple’s sputtering offense, the defense will be looked upon to win games.
With Klecko at the helm of an already solid defense, Temple should find success.
Colts Neck, N.J./Marlboro HS
Klecko in the Preseason Press:
Athlon Sports – Third Team All-America, All-Big East
Collegefootballnews.com – All-Big East, 6th ranked overall player in the Big East
Football Action – Second Team All-America
Lindy’s – First Team All-Big East
The Sporting News – 7th ranked DE in the nation, First Team All-Big East
Street & Smith’s – Honorable Mention All-America, All-Big East
Klecko on the Watch Lists:
Rotary Lombardi Award – Outstanding Lineman
Outland Trophy – Outstanding Interior Lineman
Bronko Nagurski Trophy – Outstanding Defensive Player
Andrew Monoghan can be reached at Actmono@aol.com