Now that the football team is an official member of the Mid-American Conference, coach Al Golden has set the bar for his team even higher.
“Every day, we have a goal that we work for,” Golden said. “And that’s the only way the kids will be judged. They’ll be judged on whether they attend classes at a MAC-championship level. They’ll be judged on whether they hit the weight room like a MAC-championship team, and obviously now the way we practice and prepare. . . . So it’s good to be in a league again.”
The Owls began spring practice last week hoping to end a stretch of 16 consecutive
losing seasons when they eventually take the field next fall.
Playing as a MAC affiliate last season, Temple finished with a 1-11 record, its lone triumph coming in an emotionally-charged 28-14 victory against Bowling Green, one of its new conference foes. Quarterback Adam DiMichele was the starter under center during the win. But he was also the starter for eight of the team’s 11 losses and is looking to put last season in its appropriate place: the rearview mirror.
“I guess we’ll talk about it here and there when we have to,” DiMichele, a redshirt
junior, said of last season. “But we’re on a new page right now, and we’re definitely excited about this upcoming season.”
Some of the excitement regarding next season should be based upon the incoming freshman class, rated the best in the MAC by Scout.com.
Sophomore quarterback Vaughn Charlton
verified that he is eager about the recruiting class.
“I’m real excited about that [recruiting
class],” he said. “We were the top in the MAC and top 60 in the nation. That’s really big for us.”
One of those recruits – Philadelphia native Daryl Robinson – was in attendance at practice last week. Another prized recruit is quarterback Chester Stewart, whom Golden said has “a laser for an arm.” Stewart threw for 1,738 yards and 17 scores and added 10 touchdowns on the ground as a senior at DeMatha Catholic High in Washington, D.C. last year.
Stewart is facing an uphill battle for playing time at the quarterback position with two experienced players in front of him in DiMichele and Charlton, who started three games as a true freshman last season.
Golden said he believes his signal-caller for the upcoming year already calls North Broad Street home, which would likely mean Stewart is not in the mix for the starting role.
“I think that the quarterback that’s going to help us win games this year is on campus,” Golden said. “I have great faith in the guys that are coming in, but really the guys that competed last year and are fighting for the job in the spring are really going to be the frontrunners
heading into summer drills.”
That being said, Golden did not completely
eliminate Stewart from possibly being
named the starter for the season opener against Navy Aug. 31. “I don’t want to say it’s just someone’s spot following the spring,” he said. “But I’m looking to establish somebody here in the next 15 practices.”
Charlton and DiMichele looked sharp in spring drills early last week and are both listed atop the depth chart at the onset of spring practice.
DiMichele is aware of the competition, yet remains confident that whoever is chosen
as the starter will be capable of handling the duties.
“We’re all going to be competitive this spring,” he said. “Who knows when Coach is going to pick a quarterback? And whenever he does, that will be the right guy for the job.”
Charlton said the competition can only be a very positive thing for the squad’s success.
“I think competition is good for the team, as far as us pushing each other,” Charlton
said. “Me and Adam work together as far as off the field and in the film room, and we help each other.” Golden said he expects, in the very near future, there will be players jockeying for positions all over the field.
“Either this year or in early 2008,” Golden said, “We’re going to have that kind of competition at every position. I think the kids realize it’s coming. “And as [it was] alluded to earlier about the depth chart, that’s the way it’s going to be from now on. It’s going to be a performance-
based depth chart.”
That would explain why Eastern College
Athletic Conference All-Star receiver Travis Shelton and last year’s starting defensive tackle Philip Simpson were not penciled in as starters on the first day of spring practice.
Golden offered a simple answer: “Those guys got their butts beat out in the offseason program,” he said. “That’s the bottom
Terrance McNeil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org