Temple football coach Geoff Collins preaches versatility at first practice

Geoff Collins at his first Temple spring practice
Temple's new football coach, Geoff Collins, supervises his first official spring practice at the Owls' facility in Philadelphia on Monday, March 20, 2017.

Sorting out the quarterback situation will likely be the most interesting development during Temple's spring football session (and possibly into the fall), but another element that first-year coach Geoff Collins is preaching is versatility.

During the spring, if an offensive player is practicing on defense and vice versa, it doesn't necessarily mean a position switch as much as a potential position addition.

It's not that there will be full-time two-way players, but more players could see action on both sides of the ball. At least they are going to practice that way.

That was the message that Collins gave Monday after the initial spring practice for the Owls. They are coming off consecutive 10-4 seasons and last year earned the American Athletic Conference title.

Last season, Temple's most noted two-way player was since-graduated tight end-defensive end Romond Deloatch. He played mainly on offense but also recorded four sacks as a situational defensive end.

This year, there could be more of that. Collins gave an example, saying that receivers Keith Kirkwood and Ventell Bryant might also see time in the defensive secondary.

"If we have to play Kirkwood at free safety or Ventell at corner in the red zone, that is what we will do," said Collins, who was the only person from the program to talk to the media on Monday. "We want to help these kids put good things on tape so they are marketable for the next level, and it will help our team."

He said he will have his linemen working on both sides of the ball as well. Plus, if a player plays middle linebacker, Collins wants him to also learn how to play strong-side and weak-side backer.

As for the quarterback, four players are in the running to take over for four-year starter Phillip Walker. No way is Collins even going to hint who may be the front-runner, probably because he doesn't know.

While reporters got to view only the final 15 to 20 minutes of practice, all the quarterback candidates received substantial repetitions in that time.

The four are redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt junior Frank Nutile, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo, and incoming freshman Todd Centeio, who is already enrolled at Temple.

"The big part for us is the leadership ability, their presence with the team, their presence in the locker room, and obviously they can spin it," Collins said. "They all have talented arms. Some have really good feet, escapability in the pocket. We will find out what each kid can do and bring the offense around them."

Collins also said that he would place a major emphasis on special teams, and his best players would play there. Former coach Matt Rhule also utilized many of his top players on special teams.

"Special teams will be a huge priority on what we do here," Collins said.

Most of all, after being hired on Dec. 13, Collins was glad to be on the field. A little anxious, he said he woke up at 2 a.m. to get ready for the morning workout.

"I had a blast," he said.

He'll have plenty of other times this spring to have a blast. The Owls have 13 more scheduled spring practices leading up to the April 22 Cherry and White spring football game.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard