Camp notes: Foster ‘picked up the scheme quickly’ after being injured in the spring

The redshirt-senior cornerback is one of three starters this season returning to the Owls defensive backfield.

Redshirt-senior defensive back Mike Jones and redshirt-freshman tight end Kenny Yeboah battle at the line of scrimmage during Tuesday's practice at Chodoff Field. SYDNEY SCHAEFER | THE TEMPLE NEWS

In his freshman season, Artrel Foster didn’t know what position he was going to play.

That’s when former defensive backs coach Francis Brown stepped into the situation. He helped Foster, who was a four-year varsity starting running back and cornerback at Meadville High School, elevate his game as a cornerback, which eventually led to him becoming a starter last season.

“Fran Brown was the best coach of my life,” the redshirt senior said. “He brought me along. He taught me how to play corner, he really pushed me. I’m just so blessed that I just kept working and that I’m here today.”

After not participating in spring practices, Foster said he’s a full go and has been taking reps at cornerback in the first team defense with redshirt-senior cornerback Mike Jones.

The first couple times returning to the practice field were tough, Foster said. It took a little bit to shake off some rust, especially because he’s playing in a new defensive scheme, he added.

Defensive coordinator Taver Johnson said Foster’s hard work in the classroom has helped him learn the defense faster.

“I’ve seen a guy that is unbelievably smart, disciplined, tough,” Johnson said. “He picked up the scheme quickly, especially not getting any reps in the spring. He studies like crazy.  He’s a pro already when it comes to all of the intricacies and detailed things.”   

Saturday’s scrimmage is just ‘another day’ for Kareem Ali

Prior to some of coach Geoff Collins’ coaching staff arriving at Temple, redshirt-sophomore defensive back Kareem Ali had some familiarity with them.

Ali said Johnson recruited him while he was the defensive backs coach at Purdue University and that he knew defensive backs coach Cory Robinson from when he coached high school.

But the four-star recruit who turned down offers from Penn State, the University of Florida and Clemson University to play for the Owls, said he still has to perform in practice, despite his ties to the coaching staff.

“I would it’s a new staff, it’s time to re-prove yourself,” Ali said. “Regardless of what you came out of high school as. I knew I was a four-star, but you get to college and that doesn’t mean anything.”

Ali was hurt during spring practices due to a meniscus injury and didn’t get much time to display his skills to the coaching staff. He said he’s pretty close to being 100 percent.

A day for Ali to prove himself to the new staff will be this Saturday in the team’s second scrimmage at Franklin Field.

The scrimmage will help coaches determine and set a depth chart for the season opener Sept. 2 against the University of Notre Dame, but Ali is going to treat it like a normal day of practice.

“It’s just another day, honestly,” Ali said. “I don’t look into stuff like ‘Oh, I got to do this and pressure myself.’ You know I know what I can do. I go out there and play the technique, play the defense, play ball.”

Linebackers earn high praise

Isaiah Graham-Mobley didn’t play linebacker at Upper Merion High School.

But the redshirt freshman has added muscle to his 6-foot-2-inch frame and has been getting reps with the first team at the position defense in practice.

“He’s showed us what can happen when you take everything seriously as a young guy and you put forth the effort,” Johnson said. “He gained 10 to 12 pounds over the summer, that boosted his confidence. He’s gotten a lot faster and he’s still new to the position. He’s done a great job of studying and just sitting down with [linebackers] coach [Andrew] Thacker and getting all of the detailed things that go into it.

“I think that physicalness has come out of him because he’s gotten bigger, he’s gotten stronger…. He’s an athletic guy that can run but now he’s able to pull up gaps and that’s huge.”

Graham-Mobley played safety and wide receiver in high school and racked up 82 tackles and six interceptions as a senior in 2015.

Two other linebackers, redshirt sophomore Chapelle Russell and redshirt junior Jared Folks, have each caught Johnson’s eye since they returned to practice after being injured in the spring.

“Those two guys, when you look at them, they look like Division I Top 25 program linebackers,” Johnson said. … “We have to pull the reigns off them a little bit because when they come down hill they’re exploding on people, which is huge.”

Transfer Mike Jones contributing to special teams

Mike Jones was one of many Owls who lined up and returned kicks in Tuesday’s practice.

Last season, sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Wright returned a team-high 11 kickoffs for Temple with an average of 25.27 yards per return. Sophomore wide receiver Randle Jones also averaged 20.57 yards on seven returns last season.

Mike Jones was named All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference last season as a return specialist at North Carolina Central University.

In addition to returning kicks, Mike Jones has also taken reps at punt returner behind senior safety Sean Chandler. He averaged 22.0 yards per punt return last season and was one of four returners in the Football Championship Subdivision with two punt return touchdowns.

“I think that’s a big part of my game, being a specialist,” Mike Jones said. “I like being a punt returner a lot, and I like being a kick returner. So I think once they want me back there, I think it’s a good chance for them to trust in me because, I think I can make a tremendous amount of plays.”

Report: Temple is negotiating a home-and-home with Georgia Tech

Temple is in negotiations with Georgia Tech for a home-and-home series, according to

Temple has recently scheduled games with a few Atlantic Coast Conference schools.

On Aug. 1, Temple announced a home-and-home series with the University of Miami. The Owls will travel to Miami on Sept. 5, 2020, while Temple will host the Hurricanes on Sept. 23, 2023.

Last year, Temple also announced home-and-home series with Duke University and Boston College.

Temple will play at Boston College on Sept. 29, 2018, and host them at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 18, 2021.

Temple won’t travel to play Duke until Sept. 3, 2022. The Owls will host the Blue Devils the following season on Sept. 16, 2023.

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