It's been just over seven months since Geoff Collins took over the reigning American Athletic Conference champions from Matt Rhule, and many wondered what the future would hold for the Temple Owls.
There are a lot of unknowns when a new head coach takes over a program that just came off its first major conference championship in school history and has been two been straight title games. Rhule brought a level of hard work and excitement that drew recruits to Temple. Geoff Collins promised to continue that tradition, and after a slow start to the recruiting process, the Owls are beginning to understand what Collins is all about.
The Owls first recruiting class under Collins was underwhelming. That is to be expected when a new coach takes over just weeks before National Signing Day. Even with the limited time to reach out to players once committed to Rhule, he made headlines by using a helicopter to visit recruits and the introduction of the S.W.A.G. Coordinator. He has made an impression on players who are considering coming to North Broad with his use of social media and his pedigree of former players who have made it to the NFL.
With that said, Temple had just one committed player in their 2018 class heading into June. Since June 11, Collins has received commitments from seven players, and five of them came within 72 hours of one another. Collins clearly made an effort to attract as many local talents as possible as all eight commits come from the Mid-Atlantic region.
The Owls landed four three-star recruits, headlined by Amir Gillis, a local product from Philadelphia's Simon Gratz High, and Ronnie Stevenson, a 6-foot-5 wide receiver from Montour High School in Mckees Rocks, Pa. Gillis had offers from Akron, Buffalo and Kent State, but chose to stay close to home shortly after receiving an offer from Temple. Stevenson was drawing some interest from Pitt and Penn State, but the cherry and white were the only school to offer him a scholarship.
Collins' calling card has been on defense and that's where Chauncey Moore, a defensive back from Friendship Academy in D.C., and linebacker Daesean Winston from Archbishop Spalding in Severn, Md., will look to make their mark. Winston had several Mid-American Conference teams after him, including Bowling Green, Buffalo and Central Michigan. Moore was sought after by both service academies and a handful of FCS schools as well, but will leave the D.C. area to play his football in Philly.
Temple also picked up a pair of two-star linemen in Christian Barmore (Neumann Goretti, Philadelphia) and Jean Paul Rodriguez (Lakewood, N.J.). Rodriguez is considered a two-way player along the line, while Barmore is the latest area talent to stay in the City of Brotherly Love.
Rounding out Temple's current 2018 class are Antonio Colclough, a defensive back from Cardinals Hayes in Bronx, N.Y., who accepted his offer less than a week after attending Coach Collins' football camp. Elijah Clark, was the Owls' first commit in April. He is a cornerback from Sayreville War Memorial in Parlin, N.J.
Rivals.com has Temple's 2018 class currently ranked 61st in the nation, tied for fourth best in the AAC with UCF and behind Houston, SMU and Cincinnati. That's already a big jump from the 2017 class that was ranked last in the conference and 118th nationally.
The Owls remain in the running for several other recruits, including Trad Beatty, a dual-threat quarterback from Columbia, S.C. Jermaine McMillian, a defensive back from Booker T. Washington, has narrowed his list down to six schools, including Temple, and several Southeastern and Big 12 Conference programs.
There is still plenty of time for Temple to land more talented prospects to round out his first complete recruiting class. It's also still early in the process for other schools to pluck players away from G5 proframs. A lot could change before everything is all said and done, and we will learn how successful Collins' recruiting tactics have been come next February.