Study Session: Could a transfer be Temple’s next quarterback?

Temple Football lost one of the best quarterbacks in its program history three months ago. The Owls brought in two transfers, and both could compete for the starting job.

Left: Quarterback Clifton McDowell runs with the ball during the 2nd quarter of the semifinal playoff game against North Dakota State on Dec. 16, 2023. | Ethan Jamba / Montana Kaimin | Right: Evan Simon throws a pass downfield for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. | Samantha Cheng / The Daily Targum

Three months ago, Temple Football lost one of its best players in program history when quarterback E.J. Warner announced he was entering the transfer portal on Nov. 28 and chose conference rival Rice nearly a month later. 

Warner played 21 games under center on North Broad Street, ascending to fourth in program history in completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. He also broke the records for most single-season touchdown passes, most 300-yard games in a season and 3,000-yard seasons in a career.

Now, Temple has a massive void to fill. Second-string quarterback Quincy Patterson also left the program after graduating, meaning third-string quarterback Forrest Brock is the only quarterback on the roster that took snaps in Cherry and White.

The Owls kept Brock and redshirt freshmen Tyler Douglas and Patrick Keller, and they recruited Chris Dietrich from nearby Pope John XXIII High School in Sparta, New Jersey. 

Then, head coach Stan Drayton signed Rutgers transfer Evan Simon and Montana transfer Clifton McDowell. The two could be frontrunners for the starting job by August.

Simon and McDowell both have collegiate experience and came to Temple with something to prove. The quarterbacks offer two potential styles of play, and their offseason battle will be a significant turning point for the Owls.

Here’s a breakdown of their playstyles and how they could fit into Temple’s offense next season.


Last season, Simon completed two passes for 30 yards and a touchdown against Wisconsin. It was the only action he saw.

However, Simon was one of Rutgers’ go-to quarterbacks in 2022, sharing snaps under center with Gavin Wimsatt. He played in nine games and threw for 777 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. He threw for 52 yards against Temple and led the Scarlet Knights to their 16-14 win on Sept. 17 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Despite what the numbers say, Simon has a strong arm and fits well in offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf’s system. Drayton had high praise for the redshirt junior from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, on National Signing Day.

“He’s got a chip on his shoulder about how things went at Rutgers,” Drayton said. “We looked at all of his tape — we actually played against him — and we looked at his high school tape. We did our own assessment of what he can bring to the table. The experience piece, when you lose a guy that played a lot of football for you, you have to fill that void.”

On paper, Simon is the one to fill that void. He had a chance to prove himself but didn’t fit in the Rutgers system. Simon plays similarly to Warner with his quick reads, and may thrive with Temple’s weapons and play style, but he has struggled when pressured in the pocket. Temple’s offensive line has many unproven players, and Simon could have his hands full handling pressure.


McDowell played at three different schools before finding his footing with the Grizzlies, finishing 2023 with a 10-1 record at the helm and an FCS Championship game appearance. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last season but earned more than 700 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground, making him a serious dual-threat option.

Outside of his accomplishments on the field, McDowell has significant motivation. It took five seasons for him to find a comfortable role on the field, and he shined. Now, he’ll want to display his talent on an even bigger stage.

“Someone like Clifton, who competed for a championship, who wants a chance to prove himself as a guy, he’s coming in here with a chip on his shoulder,” Drayton said. “He has a real mission, a real purpose and that, in my opinion, will help to eliminate some of the complacency that gets sent in some of those rooms. He could force those individuals to come in to work and get better every single day.”

One look at McDowell’s tape shows that motivation. He’s a decent passer, but his physical rushing ability is his real asset. His 118 rushing yards against Furman in the FCS quarterfinals helped spark an offense that had struggled against the Paladins all game, forcing overtime and earning the win.

However, McDowell struggles to pass under pressure. His offensive line at Montana had a hard time maintaining a clean pocket in the FCS playoffs, and South Dakota State held him to 165 yards passing in the championship game by flooding the pocket early and often.

McDowell’s passing game will need to improve, but he is a viable option if he finds a balance between throwing the ball and running it.


These two quarterbacks would fit better in different offenses, and the player who leads the Owls may change the team’s identity. 

McDowell has thrived in a run-heavy offense where he has the chance to hurt teams in multiple ways, whereas Simon works best in a pro-style offense like Langsdorf typically runs.

Sitting here in February, Simon stands out as the obvious choice. He fits into the offense that the Owls found successful last season. He can throw the ball to Temple’s playmakers. Not much has to change with him at the helm. On the other hand, the offense would need to adapt to a dual-threat quarterback under McDowell to correctly utilize him. 

Either way, Temple will need to answer a lot of questions about its future this spring. Simon or McDowell, or someone else, is just one of many uncertainties for the new-look Owls.

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