As Andrew Thacker settles into his new position as Temple's linebackers coach, he is tasked with finding replacements for three recently-graduated seniors at the position in Avery Williams, Jarred Alwan and Stephaun Marshall.
And on top of losing Williams, Alwan and Marshall, the Owls have been without redshirt sophomore Chapelle Russell and redshirt junior Jared Folks due to injuries.
Thacker did not mention specifics about either injuries, but Russell told Greg Frank of WHIP Radio that he tore his ACL in a mid-November practice.
“It’s really fun because (the young linebackers) are humble,” Thacker said following the conclusion of Thursday’s practice at Chodoff Field. “They’ve never had the real playing time. They’re hungry and they’re wanting to prove themselves to create that starting role and to creat competition.”
In the absence of Russell and Folks, Thacker said sophomores William Kwenkeu, Shaun Bradley and Sam Franklin have stood out. Thacker also mentioned redshirt freshman Isaiah Graham-Mobley and redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Atoki.
The first linebacker Thacker brought up was Bradley, a product of Rancocas Valley High School in South Jersey. The sophomore, who also took a grayshirt year, has seen most of the first-team reps at middle linebacker, Thacker said.
“He can run, which is a dominant trait we really want at linebacker,” Thacker said. “He has very good short-area skills.”
Bradley has also blossomed into one of the leaders of the defense, which will have to replace seven starters from last year.
“He has really done a great job of taking over the group and being a great communicator out there,” Thacker said.
Franklin, a sophomore originally from Citrus (Fla.) High School, also brought up Bradley and Kwenkeu when talking about the defensive leaders.
The speed of the linebacker corps is one thing that has been apparent through spring practice. Temple has multiple converted defensive backs at linebacker, including Graham-Mobley, Franklin and Atoki.
“It is critical,” Thacker said of the speed at linebacker. “One of the physical traits we want in a linebacker is that he can run.”
-- During the 20-minute portion of practice open to reporters, redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Russo hit receiver redshirt junior Ventell Bryant for a touchdown on a fade route on the right side of the end zone.
-- All four of Temple’s quarterbacks received some action in front of reporters. True freshman Todd Centeio lost a fumble after attempting to roll out to his left. The Dwyer (Fla.) High School product also tossed a touchdown to walk-on running back Jonny Forrest. Logan Marchi broke out for roughly a 20-yard run by rolling to his left. And Frank Nutile hit redshirt freshman receiver Freddie Johnson for a touchdown.
-- Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle DeAndre Kelly nearly came up with an interception of Marchi.
-- Redshirt freshman tight end Kenny Yeboah snagged a couple catches while reporters were allowed to watch practice. The Parkland (Pa.) High School product looks like one of Temple’s best receiving threats at tight end.
-- Former Temple linebacker Jarred Alwan will join Matt Rhule’s staff at Baylor as a graduate assistant.
-- Temple hosted a contingent of 2018 recruits: Saint Joseph’s Prep linemen Ryan Bryce and safety DeJuan Dandridge, Bishop McDevitt’s C.J. LaPorta, Saint John Vianney Regional (N.J.) linebacker Johnny Buchannan, La Salle College High School (Pa.) lineman Garrett Zobel and Canisius (N.Y.) wide receiver Paul Woods.