Temple tough guy Christopher gets single-digit jersey again

Posted: August 22, 2014

Under coach Matt Rhule, Temple awards single-digit jerseys to the toughest players on the football roster. Wide receiver John Christopher has earned one of them for the second year in a row.

Christopher, a redshirt junior who will wear No. 7, is joined by fellow wide receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick (5) and linebacker Tyler Matakevich as repeat tough guys from last season. Center Kyle Friend was also selected for a second year, but NCAA rules prohibit offensive linemen from wearing single digits.

Also honored were linebacker Avery Williams (2); defensive back Sean Chandler (3), the lone freshman to receive the honor; running back Kenneth Harper (4); linebacker Stephaun Marshall (6); defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis (9); and offensive lineman Dion Dawkins, who, like Friend, can't wear a single digit.

Christopher played on a broken right foot last season. He is the team's second-leading returning receiver, having caught 31 passes for 331 yards last season, including an amazing touchdown grab against Southern Methodist.

"He makes that diving catch at SMU that makes ESPN's top plays, and what I love about it is he ran down on the kickoff the following play," Rhule said. "That's what John Christopher is. He was voted by his teammates into the single digits for the second year in a row. When your teammates do it, that's really something. He's physically tough, he's mentally tough, he's a great student, great teammate. He's everything that we're trying to find here. He's everything that we're trying to recruit."

Earlier this week, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Christopher said his foot is "100 percent" healthy. Christopher said it began to irritate him during summer camp last year and was found to be broken a few weeks into the season.

"When I heard that, I had already been playing on it," Christopher said. "At that point, not playing was never an option. I'm glad I did play because it taught me that you can learn to endure things that are both physically and mentally trying."


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer

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