Temple sees recruiting boost from national TV exposure

Temple coach Matt Rhule talks about his recruiting class of 25: "We kind of went a little bit more national."
Temple coach Matt Rhule talks about his recruiting class of 25: "We kind of went a little bit more national." (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 07, 2014

For Matt Rhule, Temple's game against Central Florida last season wasn't a total loss.

The Owls blew a seven-point lead with two minutes remaining and suffered a 39-36 defeat. But Rhule said Wednesday that the loss, which was televised on ESPN as part of the American Athletic Conference's media rights deal, paid dividends on the recruiting trail.

"As painful as UCF was for us, so many people across the country seeing us play, seeing P.J. Walker, seeing Zaire Williams, seeing Tyler Matakevich . . . we kind of went of went a little bit more national," Rhule said at a news conference announcing Temple's 2014 recruiting class.

"It's the first time since I've been here that we did it that way and we think it's great for us."

Temple's 25-member class, announced Wednesday, contains players from nine states, including Colorado, Mississippi, and Florida. Rhule said the recruiting strategy was different from previous efforts he coordinated under Al Golden.

"Obviously we still stayed true to our roots - 13 people from Pennsylvania and New Jersey," Rhule said. "But with the new conference, the new landscape with our ability to travel with the conference . . . the Temple T traveled well."

Half of the 12 new offensive players are wide receivers. Eight of the 13 defensive recruits are defensive backs. Only seven linemen were signed, a drop-off from 11 in last year's class and nine in 2012.

Rhule said the emphasis was placed on recruiting position players to compete with other athletes in the conference.

"We felt like in this conference, everyone's throwing it," Rhule said. "This is a throwing league. We needed to have, not just two corners, we needed to have four, five, six corners in this league to compete with teams that run air raid, the run and shoot . . . We needed to make sure our speed matches their speed."

Aaron Ruff, a right guard out of Imhotep Charter, is one of three signed offensive linemen. Other highlights on the offensive side include Sto-Rox quarterback Lenny Williams, the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League's all-time leading passer, and Delvon Randall, a wide receiver from Gateway High School ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 33 player in Pennsylvania.

Another Gateway product, defensive back Anthony Davis, and Cequan Jefferson, who played cornerback at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, highlight the defensive class.

Overall, the class was ranked fifth in the AAC and No. 61 overall by Rivals.com. Rhule said none of the signees is guaranteed playing time in his first season.

"We expect them to come in and compete to play," Rhule said. "As of today, recruiting is over. Now it's training time. Every guy we signed is now training to play Vanderbilt," Temple's 2014 opener on Aug. 28.

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