Temple football signs 24 players during early period

Two dozen players signed offers just one day before the Owls’ matchup against Florida International University in Thursday’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl in Florida.

Coach Geoff Collins watches from the sideline during Temple's 28-24 loss to Connecticut on Oct. 14 at Lincoln Financial Field. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

During the inaugural Football Bowl Subdivision early signing period, Temple had 24 players sign National Letters of Intent just one day before the team’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl matchup with Florida International University.

Last week, coach Geoff Collins said he had 26 players committed. Between Temple’s 43-22 victory against Tulsa on Nov. 25 to clinch bowl eligibility and Dec. 13, Collins visited all 26 players, he said.

The group of 24 had signed their offers before 9 a.m. Wednesday. Last week, Collins said he’ll strategically leave some spots open for the regular signing period. Anyone who doesn’t sign between Wednesday and Friday can sign between Feb. 7, 2018, and April 1, 2018.

247sports ranked Temple’s class 69th as of 7:10 a.m. 247sports ranked last year’s class No. 119 in the FBS.

“It helps that we’re winning,” Collins said on Dec. 13. “It helps that we went on a great run at the end, and it helps that we’re playing in a really good bowl game. But I think it’s more the relationships, the quality of the institution, the quality of the academic support that has really solidified this recruiting class.”

Collins has said he wants to build elite depth at every position. If his future seasons transpire like 2017, he’ll need it. Temple used 42 starters through the first 12 games to tie for 10th-most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Among American Athletic Conference teams, only East Carolina used more starters.

Ten different offensive linemen made starts during the regular season. Four started at left guard alone. The incoming class has five offensive linemen. All of them are 6 feet 4 inches or taller.

Nine different Owls started on the defensive line. Collins said 23 players who have earned their degrees will play in Thursday’s bowl game. Three of Temple’s top five leaders in tackles for loss are graduating. Redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch led the team with 14.5 tackles for loss during the regular season, senior Jacob Martin and redshirt senior Jullian Taylor combined for 20.

Temple added five defensive linemen on Wednesday. Every defensive lineman who signed is at least 6 feet 3 inches tall. The group includes Evan Boozer, the younger brother of redshirt-senior offensive lineman Cole Boozer. Evan Boozer had 24 tackles for loss during his senior season for Loyola Blakefield in Maryland.

The defensive line group also includes Nickolos Madourie, an incoming junior college transfer from Dakota College at Bottineau in North Dakota.

Shortly after former Central Florida coach Scott Frost took the same position at the University of Nebraska earlier this month, Madourie rescinded his verbal commitment from the Knights. Madourie had 45 tackles during his recently completed sophomore season.

Temple will also lose significant contributors at the wide receiver position after the season. Senior Adonis Jennings, who leads the team with 691 yards, and redshirt senior Keith Kirkwood, who is tied with Jennings for the team lead in receiving touchdowns, are both graduating. Both players caught 39 passes in the regular season to tie for second behind sophomore Isaiah Wright, and both wear single-digit numbers to signify they are among the team’s toughest players.

To replace them and supplement the existing crop of receivers, Temple received commitments from five receivers. Two of them, Jordan Smith and Ronnie Stevenson, are 6 feet 5 inches tall. Smith, rated as a two-star prospect by Rivals.com, accumulated 703 receiving yards as a senior at Western High School in Florida. Stevenson played both wide receiver and cornerback for Montour High School near Pittsburgh.

At Geoff Collins’ introductory press conference, athletic director Pat Kraft said Collins “can recruit anywhere and everywhere.” Collins’ second class includes two players from Sweden. Oskar Andersson, a 6-foot-6-inch, 298-pound offensive lineman, and Isaac Moore, a 6-foot-7-inch, 311-pound offensive lineman, will join the 2018 team.

The class only has one running back, Kyle Dobbins from Timber Creek High School in South Jersey. Dobbins, the 35th-best prospect in New Jersey according to Rivals.com, averaged 8.7 yards per carry, ran for 10 touchdowns and finished second on the team with 57 tackles as a defensive back.

After junior running back Jager Gardner sustained a season-ending injury against South Florida in September, Temple only had two scholarship running backs available.

The lone quarterback in the class, Trad Beatty, will join the team next month as an early enrollee. Madourie and Rock Ya-Sin, an incoming senior defensive back transferring from Presbyterian College, will also join in January. In 2017, Ya-Sin set a new single-season interceptions record for Presbyterian College, which is a Football Championship Subdivision school.

Three players joined as mid-year enrollees before this season. Redshirt-senior cornerback Mike Jones came as a transfer from North Carolina Central University, an FCS school. Jones started all 12 regular-season games, recorded 38 tackles, one interception and six pass breakups.

Freshman quarterback Todd Centeio, who also joined the team in January, has been the only true freshman to play this season. He played briefly against UMass and South Florida. Centeio has been since held out of games in hopes of preserving all four years of his eligibility.

Although most of the freshmen haven’t played, some of them are impressing their teammates and coaches in practice. Junior safety Delvon Randall said freshman defensive backs George Reid and Christian Braswell will be impact players.

“The future is bright and the depth that we’ve created is special and the leadership that these sophomores and juniors have provided especially over the last three to four weeks, is going to be huge for this program’s future,” Collins said on Nov. 21. “So I’m really excited about adding to that with this recruiting class.”

Class of 2018 early signees

Name Position Height Weight Previous School
 Oskar Andersson  OL  6-6  298  Celsiusskolan in Solna, Sweden
 Khris Banks  DL  6-4 294 DePaul Catholic High (New Jersey)
 Jose Barbon WR 6-0  177 Conestoga Valley High (Pennsylvania)
Trad Beatty QB 6-5 222 Ben Lippen High (South Carolina)
Evan Boozer DL 6-4 231 Loyola Blakefield (Maryland)
Dante Burke DL 6-4 253 Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia)
Elijah Clark CB 6-3 168 Sayreville High (New Jersey)
Antonio Colclough DL 6-3 221 Cardinal Hayes (New York)
Kyle Dobbins RB 5-11 186 Timber Creek High (New Jersey)
Amir Gillis DB 5-11 187 Simon Gratz (Pennsylvania)
JD Gomez OL 6-6 293 ASA College (Florida)
Aaron Jarman TE 6-6 254 North Lenior High (North Carolina)
Layton Jordan LB 6-2 207 McKeesport High (Pennsylvania)
Adam Klein OL 6-5 264 Episcopal Academy (Pennsylvania)
David Martin-Robinson  WR 6-4 228 Hempfield High (Pennsylvania)
Chauncey Moore CB 6-0 175 Friendship Collegiate Academy (Washington, D.C.)
Isaac Moore OL 6-7 311 Thoren Business School in Stockholm, Sweden
Kadas Reams WR 6-2 169 Milford Academy (New York)
Jean Paul Rodriguez OL 6-4 283 Lakewood High (New Jersey)
Jordan Smith WR 6-53 210 Western High (Florida)
Ronnie Stevenson WR 6-5 194 Montour High (Pennsylvania)
DaeSean Winston DB 6-2 201 Archbisop Spalding High (Maryland)
Nikolos Madourie DL 6-6 230 Dakota College at Bottineau (North Dakota)
Rock Ya-Sin CB 5-11 189 Presbyterian College (South Carolina)

Expected to sign, according to OwlScoop.com

Sean Ryan WR 6-2 180 Erasmus Hall High (New York)

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