Temple football backups have chance to fill 11 starting spots

Temple football must replace major defensive leaders after finishing 8-5 for the second straight season.

Temple football coach Rod Carey stands on the field during the Military Bowl between Temple and the University of North Carolina in Annapolis, Maryland on Dec. 27, 2019. | J.P. OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University football is losing 11 starters after competing in its fifth straight bowl game.

Junior cornerback Harrison Hand and redshirt-junior offensive lineman Matt Hennessy entered the NFL Draft. Graduate tight end Kenny Yeboah transferred to Baylor University and redshirt-junior defensive end Quincy Roche has not announced where he will play. 

Senior linebacker Shaun Bradley, senior linebacker Sam Franklin, graduate linebacker Chapelle Russell, graduate defensive end Zack Mesday, senior safety Benny Walls, senior receiver Isaiah Wright and graduate offensive lineman Jovahn Fair are graduating. 

“This is a senior group who is really special, and I’ll remember them forever,” coach Rod Carey said on Dec. 28, 2019. “What they have meant to me personally, making the transition easy, and also what they have meant to Temple.”

Three of the players leaving were leaders in major statistical categories on defense this past season. 

Roche led the team with 13.0 sacks and 18.0 tackles for loss this season, won the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and tied the Owls’ single-season sack record. 

Two candidates to replace Roche are redshirt-junior defensive end Arnold Ebiketie and redshirt-senior defensive end Nickolos Madourie. In 11 games, Ebiketie recorded two tackles for loss and two sacks while Madourie appeared in one game and recorded two tackles. 

Hand led the team with three interceptions this season, finished third on the team with five pass breakups and led the Owls’ secondary players with four tackles for loss. 

Hand announced he was entering the NFL Draft on Dec. 29, 2019 in a statement on Twitter. In the statement, Hand mentioned Temple coach Fran Brown and his influence on his career. Brown coached Hand at Baylor University and Temple but left to coach at Rutgers University on Dec. 7, 2019. 

Some players who could compete for Hand’s spot are graduate cornerback Linwood Crump, redshirt-junior cornerback Ty Mason and redshirt-senior cornerback Freddie Johnson. 

Johnson converted to cornerback in the summer and played in 12 games this season. He recorded 16 tackles, one tackle for loss and zero pass breakups. Mason played in 11 games compiling six tackles and one pass breakup. 

Crump started during the 2018 season but only played in four games this past season because of an injury. Crump recorded four tackles and no other stats. 

Bradley compiled a team-leading 79 tackles this season. He also contributed eight tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Russell and Franklin finished second and third on the team with 63 and 61 tackles respectively. 

Redshirt-senior linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley, redshirt-junior linebacker Audley Isaacs and graduate linebacker William Kwenkeu will have a chance to compete for the starting spot. 

Graham-Mobley played in eight games last season recording 36 tackles and four tackles for loss. Isaacs competed in 12 games but only recorded 13 tackles and no other stats. Kwenkeu played in just two games compiling two tackles. 

Both Graham-Mobley and Kwenkeu missed time with injuries this past season. Mobley suffered a season-ending injury prior to the week before the team played South Florida. Kwenkeu suffered a thumb injury before the season. 

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