Even though the college football season has been over for about a month, today was a pretty important day for Temple football. Today was National Signing Day, where high school football players sign letters of intent to play for a certain school and this year, the team signed 27 players will be on the team next year as freshman.
While a casual fan’s reaction may be “Who cares? They’re just freshman.” It is worthwhile to pay attention to the type of players coach Al Golden brings in every year because it shows how Golden and his staff are addressing the team’s needs.
Another reason why freshman matter, I’ll sum it up in two words: Bernard Pierce. Running back Matt Brown and placekicker Brandon McManus were also freshman who were key parts of the team this season if more evidence is needed.
Taking a look at this year’s group without even looking at the names, it’s clear from the number of players the team signed at a certain position says a lot. This year, Golden focused the wide receiver, offensive line, defensive end and in the secondary. The team signed six wide receivers, five offensive lineman and four each for defensive ends and defensive backs. After that, they got three linebackers and only one quarterback, tight end, running back, defensive tackle and punter.
It’s definitely a good idea on Golden’s part to add more weapons to the passing game, which was suspect at times. The question still remains, who’s going to throw to all of those receivers? Will it be redshirt junior Vaughn Charlton or redshirt sophomore Chester Stewart? Will freshman Chris Coyer be in the mix? I guess the answer to that will come at a later time.
Also, since the offense for years to come will probably be run first, stocking up on lineman seems like a logical move. Size on the offensive line was an emphasis for Golden.
“We’ve gone from averaging 275-280 [pounds] three years ago and now were in the 320s.” he said at his signing day press conference. “That’s the kind of group we want to have, a big strong powerful group.”
320-plus pound lineman opening holes for Pierce and company? I have no complaints about that.
Another thing worth noting: Golden’s emphasis on recruiting locally. 22 of the 27 athletes were from schools within about three hours travel time from main campus.
“The brand, the image of Temple University and obviously our football program has improved dramatically, but what will not change is our commitment to the local area.” Golden said. “If you recruit locally, you’ll be more efficient, there will be more economy and you’ll eliminate defects in evaluations.”
18 of the 27 signees were either from Pennsylvania or New Jersey and eight of those signees are from the Philadelphia metro area.
While from an outsider’s perspective, it seems close-minded to keep your recruiting efforts confined to a local area when the country is a pretty big place that I imagine can provide adequate football talent, but then again, Golden lead the team to its first bowl game in 30 years. He can do his recruiting however he sees fit. I can’t argue with the results.
Since I haven’t seen any of the signees play, I’m not going to anoint any particular player as the next Bernard Pierce, but here’s one signee who stuck out to me: Andrew Cerett. Cerett is a punter, a 6-5, 240 pound punter who in high school was also a defensive tackle.
“He thinks he’s got a defensive tackle’s mind, we got to get him to start thinking like a punter.” Golden said.
It sounds like he can tackle, that’s a plus.
“Our net punting was the weakest of our special teams, obviously we need to improve that.” Golden said.
That means there may be a chance he steals the punting gig from junior Jeff Wathne. I don’t recall ever seeing a punter that can play on the defensive line. Watching the big guy kicking a football may be quite a sight. Fun fact: Cerett was ranked as the eighth best punter in the nation by Scout.com.
It’s hard to say what will become of this recruiting class. I’m sure they’re a talented group of guys, but we won’t know what to make of them until they start appearing in games this next season.
“This is a very talented group, I wouldn’t say there’s a premiere player like last year, but I’ve said it many times ‘My wife could have picked out Bernard.’” Golden said.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org