Just days before his first NFL preseason game, Sharif Finch attended his father Gregory Finch’s funeral.
He then recorded a sack in the Tennessee Titans’ game against the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 9. After signing as one of the most highly paid undrafted free agents with $42,000 guaranteed, Finch made the Titans’ opening day roster.
He is one of six former Temple University players from the 2017 team to remain on NFL rosters or practice squads after the preseason. Those players are scattered across the country and could be facing each other as the NFL season kicks off this week.
Wide receiver Keith Kirkwood made the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad, defensive tackle Jullian Taylor made the San Francisco 49ers’ active roster, defensive end Jacob Martin made the Seattle Seahawks’ active roster, safety Sean Chandler made the New York Giants’ roster and offensive lineman Cole Boozer made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad.
Kirkwood had three catches for 31 yards during the preseason. On the Saints’ first preseason unofficial depth chart, he ranked last among a deep group of receivers. The Saints have Cameron Meredith, who led the Chicago Bears in yards receiving in 2016 and 2017 Pro Bowler Michael Thomas on their roster. Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans’ third-round pick out of Central Florida, was the only rookie receiver to make the 53-man roster.
As a redshirt senior in 2017, Kirkwood was the first Owl to earn a single-digit number under coach Geoff Collins. He, Chandler and Finch were co-captains for Temple’s first game against the University of Notre Dame. Kirkwood tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with seven, finished second in receptions with 45 and was second in receiving yards with 671.
Taylor was one of two Owls selected in the 2018 NFL Draft. The 49ers took him with the 223rd pick in the seventh round.
Taylor emerged in 49ers training camp, leading the team with two sacks. On the 49ers’ unofficial depth chart, he was listed as the third-string defensive end, which will allow him to see the field as a situational pass-rusher.
In Taylor’s redshirt senior season, he was named the captain and wore the No. 1 jersey against UMass. He was named #theSTANDARD player of the game against Villanova, Houston, Army West Point, Navy, Central Florida and Tulsa.
Martin was the other Owl drafted. Martin was chosen in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks.
Martin was a mainstay on the defensive line with the Owls. He finished his senior year second on the team in sacks behind Finch with eight. Martin was also third in tackles for loss with 11, first in fumble recoveries with two and tied for second in forced fumbles with two. Martin is the third-string left defensive end on the Seahawks’ depth chart, according to ESPN.
Chandler, who experienced homelessness as a child, has earned a spot on an NFL roster.
The New York Giants signed Chandler as an undrafted free agent in May. He’s listed as the backup free safety on the New York Giants unofficial depth chart.
Chandler played free safety for the Owls after starting his career as a cornerback, showing off his versatility. He finished 2017 third on the team with a career-high 74 tackles and second in interceptions. He is in the top 10 of Temple’s all-time interceptions leaderboard.
Lastly, Cole Boozer was signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad as a backup offensive lineman. He was cut from their game-day roster, but he made the team as one of the 11 members of the practice squad. Boozer started every game for the Owls last season at right tackle, and he was the only player to start every game on offense.
The new crop of former Temple players in the NFL joins Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who played for the Owls from 2012-15, among others.