Temple's accidental defensive end

Posted: August 16, 2013

ROMOND DELOATCH had a good season to build on as a true freshman for Temple last year. At wide receiver, he was one of the most productive rookies for the Owls, playing in eight games and starting two.

Things are a bit different for Deloatch this season. The number on his jersey has changed from 26 to 84, but that is not the only thing that has changed.

The Hampton, Va., native was asked to make a switch in positions when he came back for the 2013 season. Actually, a couple of switches.

"I came in at receiver, gained some pounds, and because of new coaches, they felt that I have the best way of playing on the field and learning the offense faster at tight end, so I moved," said Deloatch, who had four receptions for 42 years last year. "It was kind of hard for me. I had that pride because I was a receiver all my life. They moved me to tight end and I adapted to it. I had to get bigger, faster, stronger."

As if one position change wasn't enough, earlier this week he ended up on the other side of the ball. First-year Temple coach Matt Rhule stuck the 6-4, 225-pound Deloatch at defensive end as a disciplinary measure. Instead of trying to help the quarterback, he was trying to pin the man in the orange shirt at the Temple football facility.

"Last Sunday, I got in trouble for coming into a meeting late," Deloatch said. "Coach moved me to defense just for punishment. I opened people's eyes up by getting to the quarterback. I didn't know I could do it, but I happened to do it. Coach kept me there for another day, and I did pretty well."

Said Rhule: "You always want guys to understand, 'Hey, I need to be appreciative of what I have. I have this great opportunity at my position, and things can be taken away from me at any moment.' So he went out and had seven sacks. He showed me how smart I was."

In Deloatch's first practice at defensive end, which was intended for punishment purposes only, he indeed registered seven sacks. To see if it was a fluke, Rhule and his staff put him back there the very next day. He got to the quarterback twice in that practice.

Asked if he had any idea that Deloatch would excel at defensive end, Rhule said: "No. None at all. I would love to take credit for it after the fact, but I can't. He is a really good football player, and a good person, too."

Deloatch didn't see it coming, either. "It was surprising because I didn't know I would be able to play it and do well at it," he said. "I can't believe I did it. It was fun when I got to the quarterback. But I also love my quarterbacks, too. It's a hard thing."

Deloatch now has to balance keeping both the offense and the defense happy. During training camp, he has to try to sack his quarterback one play, and block for him the next. Not only that, but he has to learn the defensive playbook in addition to the offensive one he has already been studying.

"I'm just getting better with the offense," Deloatch said. "I know a lot of the offensive plays. It's the defense I don't know. There was no walking me through, or trying to give me a step by step, or day by day, working on that."

"We are going to continue to work him," Rhule said. "Sometimes when you do things early, and there are no rules and you are good at it, then you have to learn how to do it. But I think he has a chance to be a decent end."

When asked what his goals are for the season, Deloatch's response was one you don't hear every day.

"I plan on leading the team in receptions in the passing game," he said, "and leading the team in sacks on the defensive side of the ball."

On Twitter: @AndrewJAlbert01

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