Temple DB holds his own against Buffalo pro prospect

Senior cornerback Rock Ya-Sin nearly had three interceptions during Temple’s 36-29 loss to the University at Buffalo on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Senior cornerback Rock Ya-Sin returns an interception that was later negated by penalty during the Owls' 36-29 loss to the University at Buffalo on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / FILE PHOTO

With less than two minutes left in the first half on Saturday, Temple University senior cornerback Rock Ya-Sin lined up across from University at Buffalo senior wide receiver Anthony Johnson, the Bulls’ No. 1 wide receiver and an NFL prospect.

Johnson ran up the right sideline and was one-on-one with Ya-Sin. Buffalo junior quarterback Tyree Jackson targeted Johnson, but Ya-Sin got in position and intercepted the slightly underthrown ball at the goal line.

Ya-Sin finished with seven tackles, three pass breakups and one interception in the Owls’ 36-29 loss at Lincoln Financial Field.

“He is an elite playmaker, an unbelieve guy that works hard, shows relentless effort,” Collins said. “Everything you want in a college football player, Rock Ya-Sin is. …He is a competitive guy, he studies so much tape.”

That play kept the game within reach for Temple.

Instead of Buffalo taking a possible three-score lead into halftime, Ya-Sin put the Owls’ offense back on the field for one more shot to score before the half. With one minute, 43 seconds to go, Temple moved the ball to the Buffalo 39-yard line with seven seconds to go. Graduate student quarterback Frank Nutile heaved a Hail Mary pass that was hauled in by redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Branden Mack to give Temple its first points.

Besides committing a holding and pass interference penalty while covering Johnson in the first half, Ya-Sin came up clutch for Temple. Ya-Sin had two third-down pass breakups, including a near interception that was overturned after review in the third quarter.

After Buffalo’s second touchdown, the Bulls tried for a two-point conversion while leading 12-0. While scrambling to his right, Jackson threw the ball right to Ya-Sin, who then about the length of the field to score two points for Temple. The score and interception, however, was negated by a block in the back penalty against redshirt-junior tight end Jake Robinson.

Since coming to Temple in Spring 2018 as a transfer from Presbyterian College, Ya-Sin has impressed the program with his toughness. As a reward, he was given the single-digit No. 6 before summer training camp.

Alongside players like graduate student defensive tackle Michael Dogbe, junior linebacker Shaun Bradley and senior safety Delvon Randall, Ya-Sin said he tends to take less of a vocal leadership approach by letting his work ethic and play speak for itself.

“Since I have been here, I have always tried to lead by example and do the right thing,” Ya-Sin said. “Now I am starting to a little bit more of a leadership role. We have great leaders…so many guys that can lead. But if I have a chance to speak or if it is my turn to speak, I will do what I can.”

Randall has noticed Ya-Sin’s competitive nature on the field.

“When I heard we had a transfer coming in, I watched his highlight tape and saw that he was a competitor,” Randall said in August. “Once he got here, he didn’t say much. He won’t talk, but when it comes to the field, he talks trash.”

“He knows his assignments, he fits in real well,” Randall added. “The thing with Rock is that he just works hard. The more he was around us, the more comfortable he got. We accept everybody, and he adapted into this program very quickly.”

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