Temple football's sales pitch to local recruits is a throwback approach. Stay home and be a part of the new "U," the coaches say. It's inspired by the University of Miami, which used local talent to fuel a turnaround in the 1980s.
Temple's coaches are looking to follow the same plan as they try to sway Philadelphia's top players to sign on even when upper-echelon programs come calling.
"We can replicate that same success because we have a lot of talent right here in the city," said an Owls assistant coach who asked not to be identified. "This will definitely change the future. If all these guys stay home, we're launching ourselves into the top-30 recruiting classes in the nation."
The Owls have had recent success in securing local talent but have had less success signing players from inside the city. The 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes each featured just one player from Philadelphia. The next few months will be vital to measuring their success at changing that.
The Owls are zeroing in on two of the Public League's top defensive players: Washington's Shareef Miller and Martin Luther King's Dawayne Young. Miller is a defensive end who has received scholarship offers from Arizona State, Oregon, and Penn State. Young is a defensive tackle who will attend West Virginia's camp this month. The two recruits frequent Temple's campus and the recently renovated practice facility, often visiting on their own.
Young transferred to King from Washington in the spring, but his status to play this season is under review because Washington said he transferred for athletic reasons. The PIAA will rule on the matter next week. If Young commits to the Owls, a source at Temple said, the team will honor his scholarship whether he plays high school football this season or not.
Temple also is recruiting St. Joseph's Prep running back Olamide Zaccheaus, who has received offers from Miami, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers. The Owls remain in contact with Imhotep Charter's D.J. Moore, who orally committed this month to Maryland. The Owls rank him as their No. 1 wide receiver target in the Class of 2015.
Moore's Imhotep teammate, tight end Naseir Upshur, is one of Temple's main priorities in the Class of 2016. The 6-foot-3, 231-pounder visited Alabama and South Carolina this week. Also in the Class of 2016 and on the Owls' radar are Imhotep running back Tyliek Raynor, Imhotep offensive linemen Yasir Durant and Johncarlo Valentin, Imhotep wide receiver Nasir Lewis, Prep Charter defensive lineman Karamo Dioubate, and Simon Gratz lineman Raquan Thomas.
"We're not Alabama, we're not Oregon. We're Temple and they're selling something completely different than us," the Owls assistant said. "We just sell what we can and go from there. Hopefully it works and they stay home."
Evans picks Owls
Coatesville's Ahkema Evans, a senior cornerback, committed Thursday to play at Temple.
"He's the best pure cornerback I've coached at the high school level," Red Raiders coach Matt Ortega said. "He's very physical, has high energy all the time. He's got a ton of upside."
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Evans, who doubles as a slot receiver, also had scholarship offers from Albany, Coastal Carolina, Duquesne, Rhode Island, and St. Francis (Pa.).