In July of last year, Temple’s football program had already secured one four-star recruit from the Class of 2015.
On Wednesday morning, Matt Rhule’s staff nabbed another one.
T.J. Simmons, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound running back out of Lakeland, Florida, was one of two top prospects picked up by Temple on National Signing Day on Wednesday. The other was Kareem Ali Jr., a five-foot-eleven, 175-pound defensive back from Sicklerville, New Jersey.
Coach Matt Rhule said that Simmons has the ability to perform well at the next level.
“[He’s] a tremendous athlete,” Rhule said. “He’s heralded, he’s fast, he’s explosive. He has the chance to be a big [running] back [for us].”
After rushing for 1,257 yards and 11 touchdowns during his junior year at Lakeland Christian Academy high school, Simmons broke his leg in the season opener of his senior year. Ali Jr., who played at Timber Creek high school, is the seventh best prospect out of New Jersey, according to ESPN’s Recruiting Nation rankings.
The rest of the class, which covers nine states spanning from Washington to Florida, is highlighted by six three-star recruits.
The lone quarterback in the class is Logan Marchi, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound athlete from Bristol, Connecticut. Marchi threw for 3,220 yards and 38 touchdowns, and picked up 540 yards on the ground, including six scores as a senior at St. Paul Catholic high school.
Rhule said that he was fine with just one quarterback in the class, citing the fact that the Owls now have four scholarship quarterbacks for the upcoming season.
“I think for us, we’re not in the position yet that we could sign multiple quarterbacks for two years in a row,” he said. “We’re still trying to build the [offensive] and defensive lines, and some of the offensive skill [positions].”
Even with all the signings, the Owls will return most of their starters from a team that improved from a 2-10 record in 2013 to a 6-6 mark in 2014. Rhule said that ideally, he shouldn’t have to use many athletes from this year’s class, but added that some players will have an opportunity to make an impact.
“If we have a great program, all the freshmen aren’t playing, they’re kind of sitting and waiting their turn,” he said. “But I think there are some guys there that give us a chance to get us over the hump.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.