Football team begins spring practices

Army West Point senior defensive back Max Regan (left) makes a diving tackle attempt at senior running back Ryquell Armstead in the Black Knights’ 31-28 overtime win on Oct. 21 at Michie Stadium in West Point, New York. | HOJUN YU / FILE PHOTO

Temple will start its second spring football camp under coach Geoff Collins Tuesday at Chodoff Field at 10th and Diamond streets.

The Owls will have 14 spring practices before their annual Cherry and White Game on April 14 at the Temple Sports Complex.

Temple finished last season with a 7-6 record and a victory against Florida International University in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl in December. After they ended the 2014 season with a 6-6 record and missed out on earning an invitation to a bowl game, the Owls have now ended the past three seasons with records above .500.

The last time Temple had three consecutive winning seasons was from 2009-11 when it played in the Mid-American Conference under former coaches Al Golden and Steve Addazio. The 2011 season ended with a win in the New Mexico Bowl, which marked the Owls’ first bowl victory since 1979 and stood as their most recent bowl win until they won the Gasparilla Bowl.

Temple will enter the season looking for its fourth straight bowl appearance, something it has never done in program history. The Owls will also try to have a winning record for the fourth year in a row, which they haven’t done since they had five straight winning seasons under College Football Hall of Fame coach Wayne Hardin from 1971-75.

Quarterback Frank Nutile will return for his redshirt-senior season. Nutile had a 4-2 record in his six starts and threw 12 touchdowns to his six interceptions. Three other quarterbacks — redshirt sophomore Anthony Russo, redshirt freshman Todd Centeio and freshman Trad Beatty — will be in spring training camp.

The Owls could have potentially had five quarterbacks, but Logan Marchi transferred to East Tennessee State University in January.

Last season, Marchi emerged as the winner of the preseason competition for the starting role and started the first seven games of the season.

Russo and Centeio each competed for the starting job in 2017. Russo didn’t take any offensive snaps, but he played two games as the holder for field-goal attempts and extra-point tries.

Centeio played in two games and completed two passes in a 29-21 win against UMass on Sept. 15. Beatty is a left-handed early enrollee from South Carolina. Rivals.com rated Beatty as a three-star recruit.

Adonis Jennings and Keith Kirkwood, Temple’s two 2017 leaders in receiving touchdowns, have graduated. The Owls’ leader in receptions, junior wideout Isaiah Wright, will return this season.

In the backfield, senior Ryquell Armstead and redshirt senior David Hood, who combined for 10 rushing touchdowns and 1,242 yards rushing last season, return for their final years of eligibility.

Redshirt-junior running back Jager Gardner will make his return from a season-ending injury he suffered on Sept. 21 against South Florida. Gardner played three games last season. In 2016, he had 29 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games.

Some of Temple’s key departures include safety Sean Chandler, who competed in defensive back workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine on March 5 in Indianapolis. Temple’s starting offensive tackles, Leon Johnson and Cole Boozer, also graduated after the 2017 season.

Three players who had 10 or more tackles for loss — Sharif Finch, Jacob Martin and Jullian Taylor — played their final seasons.

Collins retained most of his staff during the offseason. Andrew Thacker, who was the linebackers coach last season, will be the defensive coordinator after Taver Johnson left the role to become the cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator at Ohio State University. In addition to serving as the defensive coordinator last season, Johnson worked as the safeties coach.

Collins hired Nathan Burton, a former North Carolina State University assistant, to coach the defensive backs this season.

Collins also promoted Larry Knight to a full-time role as the outside linebackers coach and defensive recruiting coordinator. He promoted former graduate assistant Reggie Garrett to defensive analyst and promoted former offensive quality control coach Adam DiMichele to a full-time assistant role.

Temple will begin its regular season with three of its first four games at home, starting on Sept. 1 against Villanova. Temple will face nine teams that it faced in 2017. The Owls had a 5-4 record against those teams.

Evan Easterling
can be reached at evan.easterling@temple.edu Or you can follow Evan on Twitter @Evan_Easterling Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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