Logan Marchi floated a pass to Kenny Yeboah in the corner of the end zone. But a deflection from Sean Chandler caused Yeboah to bobble and drop what would’ve been a touchdown in preseason practice.
While Yeboah didn’t haul in the reception on Aug. 17, throughout the preseason the redshirt-freshman tight end challenged the Owls’ secondary, including Chandler, a senior and one of the top ranked free safeties in the country, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
“He’s one of those freak athletes, like he’s one of those tight ends that can go out there and play receiver if you need him to,” Chandler said. “So like covering him is kinda tough each and every day and I’m an older guy, so I know that he’s going to give the other defenses problems.”
Temple lost its two redshirt senior starting tight ends — Colin Thompson and Romond Deloatch — following last season. Yeboah, who only caught one pass last season for 15 yards, has an opportunity to fill the void.
Yeboah has been taking reps with the first-team offense in preseason camp. Last season, Yeboah said he felt discouraged at times because he was getting moved to play tight end, a position he didn’t have experience playing at Parkland Senior High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Since then, tight ends and special teams coach Ed Foley and redshirt-junior tight end Chris Myarick have helped with his techniques as a blocker. Yeboah has also added 20 pounds to his frame.
But even with the added weight, Yeboah said he has maintained his speed, which allows him to run a 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. He plans to use it to his advantage against linebackers and safeties this season.
“I just go out, and I’m pretty athletic so I just try to use my athleticism, he said. “Coach always tells me, ‘My best weapon is my speed against linebackers and safeties.’ So when I go up, I just try to go up and get the ball and just make plays.”
Before he arrived at Temple, Yeboah broke school records at Parkland. He racked up 72 catches for 1,160 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns his senior year. During his junior season, he had 43 catches for 716 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Foley compared his knack for finding the end zone to redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch’s ability to block punts — Finch is Division I’s active leader with five blocked punts.
“At a certain, you’ve gotta say, ‘This guy’s a playmaker,’” Foley said. “So I mean I think Kenny has that.”
“The difference between Kenny and maybe another guy talent-wise isn’t great,” his coach added. “But the difference between all of the touchdowns that Kenny scored and the next guy is significant in my mind.”
Whether Yeboah lined up on the outside or in the slot at Parkland, he was a headache for opposing defenses and coaches, including former Allentown Central Catholic High School coach John Cupples.
Central Catholic faced Yeboah’s Parkland squads in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
When the teams faced off in 2015, Cupples isolated one of his defensive backs to spy on Yeboah for the entirety of the game. Though this tactic limited Yeboah to only one catch for three yards, Central Catholic lost the game 28-14.
With Yeboah drawing so much attention as a 6-foot-5-inch wideout, it opened up the field for Parkland’s wide receivers and running backs to make plays. Two of his teammates had more than 50 receiving yards, while three running backs combined for 226 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the victory.
“The athleticism stands out on film, but when you actually go and see what he does on the field, it’s a whole different level,” Cupples said. “He’s kind of the kid that you always got to be cautious of where he is on the field and always worry about his ability to make big plays.”