Wide receivers coach Rob Spence and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin have joined Al Golden’s staff after observing the team’s positive atmosphere.
Temple football made its first appearance in a bowl game in 30 years, and the college football world started to notice the program coach Al Golden was building.
With the departures of former defensive line coach Randy Melvin to Rutgers and wide receivers coach Kevin Gilbride Jr. to the National Football League’s New York Giants, Rob Spence saw an opportunity to jump on board as the new wide receivers coach.
“One of the key things in coming to Temple was the great atmosphere that had been created here by coach Golden and his staff,” Spence said. “As an outside observer, I saw a program that was being created properly from the inside out and just observed that whole Temple University program was a different place with a unique culture and a very positive culture, and I was attracted to that.”
Spence spent last season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Syracuse. He had spent three seasons prior to that at Clemson occupying the same position. This season, Spence inherits a receiving corps that currently has 11 wideouts, which does not include the six receivers who will arrive in the fall after signing National Letters of Intent with the team in February.
“There’s a great deal of potential, but obviously, that potential has to be realized, and that’s where we have to continue to make improvements and continue to work hard,” Spence said. “We just need to grow with the talent that we have here. The offense is dependent on the talent that you have available.
“We have a skilled running game, but we need some of our other skill players to develop and take the next step, and we’ll see where we go from there,” he added.
The Owls’ leading wide receiver last year, Michael Campbell, returns as a senior this season. Campbell finished with 419 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore wideout James Nixon will try to build on last season’s numbers and continue as a multipurpose threat. Nixon recorded 327 yards and two touchdowns in the air, 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground and 497 yards and two touchdowns as a kick returner.
The sheer number of wide receivers has increased the competition for looks from whoever wins the starting quarterback job this fall.
“There’s definitely more competition,” Campbell said. “I look at it as a good thing because we have more depth at the position, so we can run up and down the field on teams.”
“Competition always makes the team better,” Nixon said. “I’m not shying away from it. I’m trying to be a complete receiver [because] trick plays don’t last too long. Everybody wants to be the main guy instead of getting to do something once in a blue moon.”
The players have also made an easy transition from Gilbride to Spence.
“You can tell he’s experienced by the drills he’s having us do, and he always has words of wisdom,” Campbell said. “He doesn’t just coach us football. He coaches us in life.”
Along with Spence, Jethro Franklin was hired as the defensive line coach after coaching the same position at the University of Southern California. Franklin could not be reached for comment.
“Both of them have great résumés and have excellent experience,” Golden said. “They’ve really helped the program in the short time that they’ve been here. For both of them to reach out to us speaks volumes to our staff and what’s going on at Temple University, in addition to what these players are doing.”
For now, Spence will use the remaining spring practices and the Cherry and White game this Saturday to determine who is the crème of the receiving crop.
“So far, I’m very impressed with the players that I’m coaching,” Spence said. “I’m very excited about them. It’s been a lot of fun learning how coach Golden has developed a program here, and it’s been exciting coming to work every day.”
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.