Redshirt-junior defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh went from recording just one tackle for loss, zero sacks and seven total tackles in 2018 to recording 10 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and 52 total tackles last season.
Maijeh believes the improvements he’s made during fall camp will lead to an even better season this season, he said.
“From my redshirt-freshman year, I was playing behind guys like Michael Dogbe and Jullian Taylor,” Maijeh added. “But I knew in practice that I practice hard, I knew I had the talent there, I just needed the exposure.”
Maijeh’s performance this year will be especially important since the Owls lost their sack leader in Quincy Roche, who transferred to the University of Miami last season, The Temple News reported.
Temple will also look to graduate student defensive tackle Daniel Archibong and graduate student defensive end Manny Walker, who transferred from Wake Forest University in February, to help replace Roche, said defensive line coach Walter Stewart.
Roche recorded 13 sacks last season while Maijeh, Arichbong and Walker recorded a combined eight sacks last season.
After missing some practice time this summer due to a groin injury, Maijeh started participating in practices this week and should be “100 percent” for the Oct.10 game against Navy, he said.
Despite the injury, Maijeh improved his hand placement and play recognition during fall camp, Stewart said.
“He’s becoming a more technical player,” Stewart added. “Just challenging him in a different way. Where he could use his hands a lot better, and his recognition allowing for him to get better positioning without having to use his athleticism.”
The coaching staff also wanted Maijeh to gain weight this summer. Maijeh played at 275 pounds last season but will play closer to 290 pounds this season, Stewart said.
With his speed, Maijeh made a consistent impact as a pass rusher last season but struggled against the run at times because opposing offensive linemen would push him back off the line of scrimmage.
Adding weight to his frame could help Maijeh defend the running game better this coming season.
Maijeh’s teammates are also excited about his improvement during fall camp, Archibong said.
“Ifeanyi is a great player,” he added. “He’s a big twitch guy. He’s really fast side to side and explosive. The sky is the limit for him he’s a really great player, and I’m excited to see what he does this year.”
Maijeh has not thought about declaring for the NFL draft after this season due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
The Draft Network ranked Maijeh as the 25th best defensive tackle and 267th overall player in the potential 2021 NFL draft class.
“It would be a great opportunity for me to go to the draft,” Maijeh said. “If not, and I feel like I haven’t had my best performance, then I can look at other options as well. So it is too early to say.”