The football team signs 27 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent.
Coach Steve Addazio must have seen something that he liked from the incoming recruiting class of 2012.
“This is the best class in the history of Temple football,” Addazio said at a press conference on National Signing Day.
Maybe it was the commitment of 5-foot-8-inch running back Jamie Gilmore from North Marion, Fla. that had Addazio so excited. Gilmore is ranked as the No. 9 all-purpose back in the country by Rivals.com and could play immediately after the departure of junior running back Bernard Pierce.
Perhaps it was the news that redshirt-junior quarterback Kevin Newsome, a four-star prospect, had decided to transfer from Penn State to join the recruiting class that had Addazio in declaratory mood. After all, Addazio loves running quarterbacks, and Newsome rushed for more than 150 yards and three touchdowns in 15 games for the Nittany Lions.
What really could have had Addazio in a tiff was the signing of 5-foot-11 inch safety Nate Smith. Smith decommitted from West Virginia to come to Temple, and is ranked by Rivals as the No. 21 safety in the country.
But it was clear that Addazio was pleased with the entirety of the class as he praised recruiting coordinator Matt Rhule for the job that he did.
“It’s the best [job] I’ve ever seen,” Addazio said about Rhule’s efforts. “He was relentless.”
Gilmore, Newsome and Smith highlight an incoming class made up of 27 student-athletes who signed National Letters of Intent. The class, ranked by Rivals as the best in the Mid-American Conference, includes five three-star student-athletes and multiple players who turned down offers from schools in BCS conferences to come to Temple.
Addazio pointed to the Owls’ 9-4 season and bowl victory last year as reason for what he views as a successful recruiting season.
“The national buzz of this program is unbelievable right now,” Addazio said. “When we go recruiting now, it’s unbelievable the reception we get.”
On the offensive side, the Owls signed three offensive lineman, two running backs, six wide receivers and Newsome at quarterback.
Brandon Peoples, a 5-foot-10-inch running back, led Archbishop Wood to the PIAA Class AAA State Championship last season and could compete with Gilmore for playing time in a wide open backfield.
“[Pierce] is gone, and we go into the next phase of our program,” Addazio said. “We’re going to run the football. We have to bring guys in here to have depth.”
“I want tough backs,” Addazio added. “I want backs that are going to get those extra yards when the game’s on the line.”
Romond Deloatch, a 6-foot-4-inch three-star prospect from Hampton, Va., and 5-foot-7-inch Khalif Herbin out of Montclair, N.J. lead the incoming wide receivers that will have to replace two starters.
Addazio said Herbin is a highly-touted, dynamic player who can do multiple things on offense and special teams.
“[Herbin’s] a great player,” Addazio said. “Talk about an explosive guy.”
On defense, Smith is the standout of a group of signees that includes six defensive lineman, five linebackers and seven defensive backs.
“We look for integrity, passion,” Addazio said. “We want kids to know that it’s a privilege and not a right to be here.”
Though Addazio had high praise for the incoming class, he was quick to ensure that no one will know for sure until the players hit the field.
“The story is not yet told, we’ll have to see collectively how it all plays out,” Addazio said. “But from people that follow this team, that seems to be a consensus. But that’s yet to be a final script written.”
Joey Cranney can be reached at email@example.com.