Temple’s veteran cornerbacks are stepping into a bigger role

Temple must replace former starting cornerback Harrison Hand, who was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

Redshirt-junior cornerback Christian Braswell tackles Terrapin sophomore running back Anthony McFarland Jr. during the Owls’ game against the University of Maryland at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 14, 2019. | J.P. OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University football lost two key contributors at cornerback from last season, forcing three cornerbacks with multiple years of experience to compete for starting spots. 

Former cornerback Harrison Hand was drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft and redshirt-junior cornerback Ty Mason opted out of the season, head coach Rod Carey said. 

Hand played in 12 games last season while leading the team with three interceptions. Mason played in 12 games last season while recording nine total tackles and one pass break-up. 

Here’s who could be stepping up for the Owls in 2020.

Christian Braswell 

Braswell, a redshirt-junior, played in 12 games last season and led the team with nine pass breakups. He also recorded one interception and 29 total tackles. 

He was awarded one of the Owls’ single-digit jersey numbers during the offseason, which are voted on by the team as the toughest players. 

“It was crazy,” Braswell said. “That whole thing was just amazing. Being in that category with those people who have got single digits is crazy because that is something that lives forever. I can tell my kids one day.” 

Braswell started games last season opposite Hand and is a presumed starter again this season, Carey said. 

“The biggest difference I have seen isn’t anything physical or in his play, it’s just his confidence,” Carey added. “There is no substitution for game reps, and he got a lot of them last year. He is a very confident person right now.”

Braswell isn’t practicing due to a hamstring injury and is taking his recovery slow, he said. 

Linwood Crump

Crump, a graduate student, only played four games last season due to a hand injury. In 2018, he played in 13 games and recorded three interceptions, two pass breakups and 13 total tackles. 

The coaching staff views Crump as a likely starter this season because of his experience at cornerback. Crump is also getting cross-trained to play the safety position, Carey said. 

“When I first came back, it was the speed of the game again, having to go at game tempo and having to catch back up conditioning, and getting back into the flow of things,” Crump said. “I think that was my biggest struggle last year.” 

Crump is viewed as a vocal leader for the cornerbacks by his teammates and the coaching staff, cornerbacks coach Melvin Rice said. 

“That’s a guy who has really surprised me from a leadership standpoint,” Rice added. “Braswell is a guy that’s a silent assassin and silent leader … but Crump is the guy that gets everybody ready to go in practice. He’s correcting guys. He’s bringing that energy that we need.” 

Freddie Johnson 

Johnson, a graduate student, transitioned from playing wide receiver to cornerback before the 2019 season. Last year, he played in all 13 games but did not record a single interception or pass breakup. 

“This year you see a whole change in [Johnson’s] attitude,” Rice said. “He loves football. He wants to get better. He’s not the most vocal guy, but his actions, a lot of guys pay attention to Freddie. He has had awesome first few practices.” 

The coaching staff is pleased with Johnson’s work on special teams, and how he’s stepped up as a leader so far during practices, Rice added. 

Overall, the coaching staff is happy with the work they have seen from the cornerbacks this summer. 

“Those guys have been doing a good job,” Rice said. “I like where our group is at. We got a lot of leaders. We got a lot of guys who have played a lot of football.” 

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