What does Temple University have to offer in a football program more than, say, Nebraska?
Nebraska is a five time national champion.
Temple has not won five games since 1990. Those were just two of the choices in front of first team junior college All-American quarterback Walter Washington.
The others included Iowa State, Michigan State, Kansas, UNLV, and California. But Washington chose to don the cherry and white next season.
“I have always wanted to live in a big city, and I liked the trust and dedication the staff had in me during recruiting,” said Washington, of his big move from Kansas to Philadelphia.
“I felt really comfortable at Temple and they were with me from the beginning. I really liked the coaches and the system they have.”
Washington, 21, comes to Temple with three years left of eligibility, after playing only one season at Dodge City Community College.
Under coach John Rosetti, Washington completed 134 of his 215 passes last season, good for 1,464 yards and 13 touchdowns, while throwing only six interceptions.
“In the preseason, a lot of folks knew he had a lot of potential to be a good player,” Rosetti said.
“There was no question he was the most valuable player in the conference. People had a tough time defending him, he ran the ball very well, a duel threat that was very tough to defend.”
Washington, a 6-foot-2, 246 pound Daytona, Florida native, rushed 169 times for 708 yards and seven scores.
This double threat of passing and running gave Washington an average 217.2 yards per game, and was good enough to make him first in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in individual total offense.
“He is a strong kid, has a very strong arm, quick feet, and a good competitor,” said head coach Bobby Wallace about his prize recruit.
“[Washington] was a very talented high school player, playing in the prestigious Florida-Georgia all-star game, which is a very tough game to get into out of Florida.”
Washington played every position at Mainland High School. He lined up at running back, wide receiver, linebacker, defensive end, nose tackle, safety, and tight end. Here at Temple, he will play quarterback, competing with junior quarterback Mike McGann for the starting job.
McGann, at 6-6, 210 pounds, has played 20 games in his Temple career. Last season, his first full season as Temple’s number one quarterback, he completed 173 of his 353 attempts for 1,994 yards and 13 touchdowns.
But the strong arm of McGann, a graduate of St. Joseph’s Prep, has been inconsistent in his short career at Temple.
He threw an alarming 22 interceptions last season, though that had a lot to do with the learning of offensive coordinator David Brock’s new spread offense.
“[Washington] is a outstanding young man, and I really like him.
There will be some good competition for quarterback, and that is what you want,” said Wallace of the decision he has to make before the start of next season.
The runner up for NJCAA national player of the year is looking forward to that battle, and is excited to play in the competitive Big East, even though it might only be for two seasons.
“I want to go undefeated in the conference.
That is the kind of mode I like to be in when I play,” Washington said.
“Last season with my team I felt we can beat anybody on our schedule, and when we lost, it is because of what we did.
I am looking forward to turning this [team] around and going to a bowl.”
Temple has not been to a bowl game since 1979.
The team is coming off three consecutive four win seasons and finished 2-5 in the Big East.
According to his old coach, Washington is the kind of guy that can accomplish the team goal of postseason play.
“He is a leader by example. You don’t have to worry that he isn’t working hard,” Rosetti said.
“He was always the last to leave the weight room or the practice field.
He wants to be big and athletic, he is very competitive.
That is a big part of his nature.”
“I have a lot of personal goals coming to Temple.
I want to bring a positive attitude to the team, bring leadership, but my main goal is to win the starting job as a sophomore and just win,” Washington said.
“Temple is getting great character, dedication, and will to win [and] an overall good person.”
And so there will be excitement for the Temple Owls when Washington arrives on campus this summer and prepares for his first season playing where he has always dreamed to play, Division I football.
Matt Sitkoff can be reached at Phil14367@aol.com