Taking part in a seven-on-seven drill in Sunday’s camp session, Sean Chandler assumed his position, stuck with his man and soon wound up with the football firmly secured.
His first interception of Temple’s training camp marked the highlight of the four-day-old camp thus far for the freshman cornerback, and helped the native of nearby Camden, N.J. earn time with the first-team defense Monday.
“[Making first team] was definitely one of my goals this summer,” Chandler said. “But I know it’s a big rotation and it can change every day. I know I have to keep working at it.”
“It definitely pushed me a lot more today,” Chandler added. “I know there’ s a lot of competition out there so I just have to keep working.”
Chandler is one of numerous young assets in the Owls’ secondary garnering extra looks in camp, and is one of five true freshmen defensive backs with spots on the Owls’ 2014 roster.
Chandler earned his first dose of first-team action in drills Monday, while sophomore Jahad Thomas has also seen a share of first-team snaps in the Owls’ oft-rotating defensive unit.
With senior cornerback Anthony Robey still recovering from offseason surgery for a sports hernia with no clear timetable on his return, Owls coach Matt Rhule said the likes of Chandler and Thomas along with other underclassmen will see time with the first team, with a luxury of depth in the fall as the ultimate endgame.
“Robey’s still banged up … and we’re going to keep rotating guys,” Rhule said. We put Sean Chandler with the [first team] today, and Jahad Thomas and [junior Tavon Young] went with them as well, so we’re going to try to build that secondary and have as much depth as possible.”
“No. 1, we know we’re going to have injuries and No. 2, we’re playing teams like Houston and East Carolina,” Rhule added. “We’re probably going to have four corners … on the field anyway. We have to build that group up and they’re competing, which is good.”
Young trails only Robey in the Owls’ secondary in-game experience, starting six games with 35 solo tackles and one interception amid splitting time with 2014 graduate Zamel Johnson last year.
With experience on his side among a young cornerback crop, the junior knows his third Temple training camp is his most important camp thus far, and a starting spot is imperative for the Oxon Hill, Md. native.
“This is a very important training camp for me,” Young said. “It’s my junior year and juniors are eligible to go to the NFL this year, so it’s important I solidify a starting spot. I trust my skills and my technique. I know what’s going and I’m confident.”
At safety, starting spots are wide open with redshirt junior Boye Aromire, new junior college transfer Alex Wells and redshirt sophomore Nate L. Smith leading the chase among others.
“[Wells] had a great spring,” Rhule said. “But he’s being challenged because we have some guys. It looks like Nate L. Smith is ready to start playing for us. He’s ready to play and Boye Aromire, he’s also ready to play.
“There are some guys who want to play back there,” Rhule added, “and they all think they’re going to start, which is exactly what we wanted.
Camp intensity rising
Monday marked the second day of helmets and shoulder pads, and by the end of it, Rhule’s voice was nearly gone.
His rather raspy vocals Monday told the story of a 2014 training camp growing in intensity. Sunday and Monday’s drills included a mix of tackling, 7-on-7 play and scrimmages, and gave the players and their coaches an earmark of full-blown football.
Contact practices will begin Tuesday.
“It was really intense [Monday] which is good,” Rhule said. “It was pretty clean today. There were not a lot of penalties or turnovers, and at the end I thought they finished well. I was pleased with the way it felt on the field and I have to watch tape to see exactly where we are.”
Two signees report
The Owls’ camp squad was bolstered by two new additions Monday in freshman offensive tackle Jaelin Robinson and junior college transfer Julio Derosier, a defensive lineman.
Robinson, a West Haven, CT. native, joins a young offensive line that is now 15 players deep for camp. He was listed by Rivals.com as a two-star recruit for 2014, and played for Wilbur Cross High School.
Derosier played for ASA college in the last two seasons and saw limited action last year, registering nine solo tackles in three games.
Nevertheless, Derosier is listed as a three-star recruit and could add depth to one of Temple’s youngest groups.
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @daParent93.