The Temple Owls are set to begin a journey that few teams in the country can attest to. Coming off their best two-year stretch in program history, Temple football has a ton of questions heading into the 2017 season.
Geoff Collins is the new head coach in North Broad after losing Matt Rhule to Baylor. His first order of business was grabbing the handful of recruits that remained loyal to Temple. Collins used a helicopter and hired a S.W.A.G. Coordinator to help with the recruiting process, but his first recruiting class was not only the worst in the American Athletic Conference, but one of the worst in the nation.
His top recruit was a quarterback Todd Centeio from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The three-star QB has already enrolled at Temple so he will take part in spring practices. That's a big deal because Collins' next objective is figuring out who will be the next signal caller for the Owls.
Temple not only lost Rhule this winter, but Phillip Walker played his final game in the loss to Wake Forest in the Military Bowl. The senior will leave North Philadelphia with 28 wins, 10,668 passing yards and 74 passing touchdowns, all of which are school records.
Walker brought the program to new heights as the Owls won 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever. Reliability is what him unique as he started 47 games in a row after taking over at starting quarterback as a true freshman.
What was great for Rhule is now a problem for Collins as he inherits a quarterback group that has almost no game experience at the NCAA level. Redshirt-sophomore Logan Marchi and redshirt-junior Frank Nutile have a combined 11 pass attempts between them in their college careers. Collins also has Centeio and redshirt-freshmen Anthony Russo and Tommy Wyatt in what should be an open competition for the starting job.
Three of the quarterbacks were rated as three-star prospects entering the collegiate level: Centeio, Nutile and Russo. Collins cannot worry about that. He needs the best player on the field to keep the momentum running at Temple.
The one positive for the new quarterback is that he will have almost all of Walker's playmakers back, outside running back Jahad Thomas. Junior running back Ryquell Armstead was a third-team All-AAC selection, finishing with 14 touchdowns last season. Also returning are the Owls' top two receiving threats in redshirt-senior Keith Kirkwood and redshirt-junior Ventell Bryant.
The Owls will take a step back this season with all the changes, but should be in contention for another AAC Championship appearance. South Florida also has a new head coach in Charlie Strong, but he inherited Quinton Flowers, who could make some noise in the Heisman discussion.
Collins' future will depend on who leads this program through the new era of Temple football. The new quarterback has big shoes to fill and the reward for winning the job will be a start in South Bend against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.