After three very successful football seasons in a row, the Temple Owls were decimated this offseason by losing more than half of their returning starters to graduation. Things are starting to look up, though, for the Owls. Besides returning to the Big East for the 2012 season (after being exiled from the conference back in 2004), Temple has just gotten a major coup by getting Boston College's all-time leading rusher, Montel Harris, for the 2012 campaign.
While Montel Harris might not be as valuable as Temple's last star running back, Bernard Pierce, he has instantly brought hope back to North Broad Street to have a shot at fourth winning season in a row, something Temple hasn't done since the early 1970s.
Here is one fan's opinion on what Harris might do for the 2012 Temple Owls football team:
Monty and the Bug - When Bernard Pierce left this season after his junior year to enter the NFL draft (and was taken in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens), Matt Brown looked like he was going to be the main man in the backfield this season. Brown has been a solid No. 2 for Temple over the last three years in the backfield as the change of pace back, but with over 2,200 yards and 5.5 yards per carry average, it is still hard to argue that he has earned the right to take over the number one spot. Amongst fellow Temple alumni there is still some hesitation of having Brown get too many more carries than he has in past seasons. Besides being listed at 5 feet 5 inches (which might even be a little generous by an inch or two) and 170 pounds, he has taken too many big hits, and it seems hard to believe he can take too many more. I give Brown all the credit in the world for coming back after each hit, as he has already overcome so much with his limited size. But with Harris in the backfield, there is a lot of hope that Temple can make a quick transition from 2011's Bernie and the Bug, to 2012's Monty and the Bug.
Is Montel Harris a troublemaker? - Whenever the all-time leading rusher from a school gets let go before his final senior year, it does raise a red flag about what kind of player you might be getting. If Bernard Pierce came back for his senior season, it's a pretty safe assumption that Montel Harris wouldn't be coming to Temple, if for no other reason than the fact that Pierce and Brown would be getting a majority of the carries and wouldn't leave a lot of room for Harris to have too many carries himself. The biggest reason that I completely support the decision to bring Harris into the mix is that Temple brought in former Boston College assistants Ryan Day and Kevin Rogers during the offseason. I would hope they know what they're getting, as if they're OK with Harris coming in, I have to trust their judgment and defer to them on his situation.
Has Montel Harris recovered from his knee injury? - When a player gets a medical redshirt after injuring his knee, after having only played two games in the previous season, it does raise a lot of questions about his health. Being that this will be Harris' second straight senior season (and presumably his last, as I don't think he'd be able to get another medical redshirt year), I don't have as much concern about his health, because Harris knows more than anyone that if he wants to get drafted this year, he has to prove himself on the field. Harris already has two strikes against him for already having a season-ending knee injury and for being kicked off a team, which leads me to believe that he is going to do everything in his power to show the NFL brass what he brings to the table.
As a fan, weighing all of the pros and cons of having Montel Harris on the 2012 Temple Owls football team leads me to the conclusion that with all of the players Temple has lost, getting one back with this kind of pedigree seems worth the trouble. If nothing else, if it doesn't work out with Harris, it's only a one-season deal and next year they wouldn't have to worry about him anyway. However, if Montel Harris can bring back the magic he had in his 2009 season when he ran for 1457 yards and 14 touchdowns, Temple seems destined for another plus .500 season, possibly a third bowl bid in the last four seasons, and, most importantly, a better chance to secure its first win against Penn State since 1941.
Gabe Venit is a graduate of Temple (class of '99) and a season ticket holder for the last 6 years for Temple Owls football.