Positional battles to watch in Temple football spring practice

Temple football begins its spring practice on April 5 with an open quarterback competition.

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Re-al Mitchell surveys the field during the Owls’ game against Southern Methodist University at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 7, 2020. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University football added nine transfers this offseason to replace the 17 players who transferred away from Temple after its 2020 season ended. 

Ten starters or key contributors to the team were a part of the transfers, meaning there will be plenty of competition for starting spots when the team begins spring practice on April 5.

Here’s a breakdown of three positional battles for fans to pay attention to during spring practice. 


Temple needs to replace former starting quarterback Anthony Russo, who transferred to Michigan State University on Dec. 16, 2020. 

The top two competitors are redshirt-sophomore Re-al Mitchell and freshman D’Wan Mathis because they have the most playing experience.

Mitchell is the incumbent quarterback and is already familiar with Temple’s playbook. He transferred from Iowa State University in the summer of 2020 and played in three games for Temple last season when he threw for 238 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Mitchell also ran for 114 yards on 34 attempts.  

Mathis transferred from the University of Georgia to Temple on Dec. 14, 2020. He began the 2020 season as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback against the University of Arkansas. 

Mathis was benched against Arkansas and got few playing opportunities the rest of the season. He played in four games and recorded 89 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. 

Mathis was a four-star recruit coming out of Oak Park High School in Oak Park, Michigan. 


Temple lost two contributors in its cornerback room when Christian Braswell and Linwood Crump announced their intent to transfer after the 2020 season. Braswell hasn’t announced a destination yet, while Crump is heading to Colorado State University. 

Temple is welcoming two transfers: junior Keyshawn Paul, who transferred from the University of Connecticut, and Cameron Ruiz, who transferred from Northwestern University and will give the team previous starting experience.

Paul last played in 2019 because the Huskies canceled their 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, he played in all 12 games for the Huskies and recorded 36 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one interception. On Nov. 30, 2019, Paul played against the Owls and recorded three tackles and one pass breakup.

Ruiz spent his last four seasons at Northwestern University and played in 32 total games. He had his best season in 2019 when he recorded 44 tackles, three tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and one interception, all of which were career highs. 

In 2020, Ruiz recorded 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and two pass breakups and helped the Wildcats’ defense allow the fewest points per game in the Big Ten Conference that year. 

With experience in a strong conference like the Big Ten, Ruiz should have an advantage when competing for Braswell’s and Crump’s spots this spring. 

Graduate student Freddie Johnson returned to the team this season by  using his extra year of eligibility given to players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Johnson played in four games last season and recorded 13 tackles and one pass defended. His knowledge of the defensive scheme makes him a competitor for starting cornerback reps this season.

Defensive Tackle 

The Owls lost two contributors on their interior defensive line when Ifeanyi Maijeh and Khris Banks transferred to Rutgers University and Boston College, respectively, while former starter Daniel Archibong declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. 

Temple recruited two defensive tackle transfers from the University of North Carolina this offseason with redshirt-sophomore Lancine Turay and redshirt-junior Xach Gill. 

In his career with the Tar Heels, Gill recorded 17 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, while Turay barely played but made his collegiate debut in 2019 against Mercer University.

The Owls also have senior Kevin Robertson returning this season after he played in six games last season in a rotational role. 

With the Owls losing three players at defensive tackle, there’s a good chance these three players will see the field this coming season.

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