For two years, Temple football fans have been wondering who the next Robby Anderson would be, looking for that next wide great receiver in the program. Now comes the comforting news the second coming is the first coming.
Anderson’s return to the school on Monday was rather shocking because he had been ticketed elsewhere. Because of deadlines, the fall college football magazines that already have been sent to press and will not contain this news. It is, however, the news that just might tilt the AAC title hunt in Temple’s direction.
Before the 2013 football season was over, most Temple fans realized what they were witnessing in the final five games was a once-in-a-generation talent in Anderson. In just five games, he caught nine touchdown passes from then true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker. His 18.7 yards-per-catch average was No. 2 in the nation. In a couple of months, though, he was gone, an academic casualty who flunked out of a school that does not cut athletes extra slack like, say, North Carolina. He flunked out in January of 2014, but the news came on Monday that he suddenly has re-enrolled in the school as a member in good standing and will probably be eligible to play in the fall. Some prognosticators already picked Temple to win the AAC this season, based on a defense that returns all 11 starters and finished No. 4 in the nation in fewest points allowed.
None of those forecasters knew that Anderson’s return was a possibility, though. Now it is a reality. Anderson was slated to play for Division II Florida Tech, but the community college courses he needed to get into that school also enabled him to re-enroll at Temple, where he is for both the first and second summer sessions. If he completes his work in the summer, he will be eligible to play this fall. There is no reason to believe a closely monitored, highly tutored Anderson will not be able to skate through.
That is huge, because Anderson was just the kind of guy Temple was missing last fall — a proven playmaker on the edge. At 6-foot-3, he has the entire package—a 41-inch vertical leap, 4.45 speed, moves like a premier punt returner and great hands. His presence could open up the entire offense. He makes spectacular catches look routine without forgetting to make all the routine catches. Without Anderson, Walker looked lost, but there can be no doubt the two players formed a cosmic connection that appears to be reattached.
Owl fans now will have at least another year before they need to ask who the next Robbie Anderson will be, and none of them are complaining about that.