5 Recruits Who Made A Difference At Temple On Past Signing Days
5 Signings Who Made A Difference At Temple
On National Signing Day, everyone is unbeaten and there is unrestrained optimism about the future, no matter how bleak the recent past might have been.
Such was the case on Wednesday at Temple University when second-year head coach Matt Rhule signed a class that was ranked in the upper half of the American Athletic Conference. Rhule said all of the right things, that he doesn’t “negative recruit” and that he does not pay attention to stars and recruiting rankings in picking his targets -- all of this coming off a 2-10 season.
The perception, however, is that stars and recruiting rankings actually do matter and this class is impressive at Temple because the school actually moved the needle from being ranked near the bottom of the league to near the top. Not since former head coach Al Golden recruited three-straight No. 1 classes in the Mid-American Conference have the Owls been ranked so highly in comparison to league foes.
Whether that translates to on-field performance will be determined not this year but in a couple of years. Whatever momentum Rhule established with this class will have to be piggybacked by next year’s class and so on in order for the perception of Temple football to change.
Included in his class was the school’s first four-star recruit since Golden’s first year. In Aaron Ruff, an offensive lineman from Philadelphia, Rhule landed a guy wanted by a number of BCS schools. The last four-star recruit Temple had was Daryl Robinson, a defensive back also from the city.
“Aaron is the total package,” Rhule said. “Not only is he a tremendous football player but, more importantly, a tremendous human being. Aaron’s mother went to Temple.”
Ruff wasn’t the highest-ranked recruit ever at Temple, but these five guys had the biggest impact, four via play on the field and one just because he was the highest-ranked recruit ever to decide to play football in Philadelphia.
5. Joe Klecko
The former leader of the New York Jets' “Sack Exchange” was the first (and only) Temple player to go from pro football to college football and then to the pros again.
In the 1970's, an equipment guy at Temple told then head coach Wayne Hardin about Klecko, a truck driver who was dominating a semipro football league in Aston, Delaware County, on weekends. Hardin took a look and Klecko became a first-team All-American for Temple, then on to an All-Pro career with the Jets.
4. Paul Palmer
When then Temple head coach Bruce Arians found Palmer, he was dominating suburban football in Washington, D.C. as a running back for Winston Churchill High in Potomac, MD.
Most of the big schools stayed away from Palmer because he was 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, but those schools later regretted the decision when Palmer finished as the runner up to Vinny Testaverde for the 1986 Heisman Trophy.
3. Henry Burris
Then head coach Ron Dickerson, like Rhule, was known as a great recruiter and plucked Burris out of Sprio, OK to come to Temple. Unfortunately, Dickerson did not surround Burris with enough players to be successful for the Owls, but Burris later became a legendary quarterback in the CFL.
2. Walter Washington
It’s not often that Temple beats out Nebraska for a prized recruit, but that’s what happened in 2002 when the Owls landed Washington out of Dodge City, KS, lighting up all of the Nebraska fan message boards with three letters -- WTF.
It turned out to be a good decision for Washington, who became Big East Offensive Player of the Year as a Temple quarterback. Washington’s next decision, to leave school a year early to go to the NFL, did not go as well, as he spent much of that year sitting in the stands cheering on an Owl team that needed him.
1. Kevin Harvey
Not very many football fans know Kevin Harvey from Paul Harvey, but the day he signed at Temple turned out to be a “good day,” because the “rest of the story” was that Harvey was a Parade First-Team All-American quarterback with outstanding ball skills who, for some reason, was switched to a cornerback by then head coach Bobby Wallace.
Still, the day in 1996 that Harvey signed at Temple gave the school a local legend who, today, would be legitimate five-star quarterback big news at the turn of this century for the Owls. Harvey was another Dickerson recruit. “I think this is the most significant recruit in the history of Temple's football program,'' said Dickerson. "Kevin Harvey is like getting a 7-footer in basketball who can turn around a basketball program.'' Dickerson forgot to recruit a point guard, shooting guard and two forwards, however, and lost his job to Wallace before seeing what he could do with Harvey.