Since all of the Temple football practices are closed this spring, not much information comes out of the facility, but it can be safe to say the focus will be on the continued progress of star quarterback P.J. Walker.
The focus on the first day of spring football practice on Monday was out of sight and mind because the rest of the campus is consumed by March Madness. The basketball team will make an appearance in the South Regional, which begins on Friday in that not-so-Southern place called Brooklyn, and will be a distraction to 99 percent of the Owls’ student body. That distraction is not shared by Walker, who will make the next month a mission to become one of the great quarterbacks in college football.
All signs show he’s headed in that direction. As a freshman, Walker had 20 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions in nine games. He suffered a sophomore slump largely due to an ill-conceived spread offense that gave him no pocket protection and no time to see down the field. As a result, he had just 13 touchdowns against 15 interceptions in a 6-6 sophomore season.
With two tight ends and a fullback to protect him, last year saw more of the player Temple fans had come to know and love as a freshman. He had 19 touchdown passes and eight interceptions in a 10-4 season. If there is a natural progression there, Walker could be throwing anywhere from 25 to 30 touchdown passes this season, and those are the kind of numbers that would vault him into NFL draft consideration. That kind of season could have an ancillary effect on the Temple program as well and put the Owls at the top of the race to compete with Houston for the AAC title once again.
While the rest of the campus will be focused on March Madness in basketball, Walker can be excused if his mind is elsewhere.