Temple begins spring practice; who'll be the QB?

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Temple head coach Geoff Collins is already looking for his third WR coach

During Temple's pro day on March 8, new coach Geoff Collins was asked about the quarterback position.

"We haven't thrown a ball yet," Collins said.

As Temple begins spring practice on Monday, expect plenty of questions about the quarterback situation.

With record-setting four-year starter Phillip Walker graduated, four players will be vying to take his spot in what is easily the biggest question during spring for the Owls. Here are some of the pressing questions in spring practice.

Who is the quarterback?

While many feel that redshirt freshman Anthony Russo of Archbishop Wood is considered the favorite, this competition appears to be wide open. The other major candidates are redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, incoming freshman dual threat Todd Centeio, who is already enrolled in school, and redshirt junior Frank Nutile. It appears that all four will be given a shot to win the job. If he doesn't win the job, Centeio has the mobility to be a Wildcat quarterback.

Marchi attempted six passes last season and Nutile had two attempts, so whoever takes over among the four will be untested. According to Collins, all been impressive in workouts. There is nothing surprising there. It's when they start keeping score in the practice that the quarterback will be determined and it wouldn't be surprising if heading into preseason camp in August, the starter still won't be known.

How will Collins do in his first head coaching job?

By all accounts, Collins' positive attitude and infectious personality have earned him high grades among the players and even the former players. That is good for the coach, who seems to have everybody buying into his program. Of course, his coaching success will be determined by the one constant barometer - the team's record. He has certainly gotten off to a good start by putting his stamp on the program and getting the players behind him, but there is a long way to go before this answer is known.

What position will Isaiah Wright play?

Last year as a freshman, Wright was used as a running back, receiver, and Wildcat quarterback. He might be the team's most gifted all-around offensive player. With the graduation of leading rusher Jahad Thomas, there will be more carries. Junior Ryquell Armstead (919 yards rushing, 5.9 average, 14 TDs) will be the No. 1 and junior Jager Gardner, who battled early nagging injuries and had just 29 carries, should be used much more. Wright is so dangerous, he could also see time at receiver, which happens to be the answer to the next question.

What is the strongest offensive position?

That would be receiver. Redshirt senior Keith Kirkwood was cited by Collins for his offseason work and he was awarded a single-digit number for his dedication and toughness. Redshirt junior Ventell Bryant led the team with 54 receptions for 895 yards and four touchdowns despite missing three games because of injury. Senior Adonis Jennings came on at the end of the year and finished with seven receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the 34-26 Military Bowl loss to Wake Forest.

Finding a tight end to replace the departed Romond Deloatch and Colin Thompson, will be a top priority. Redshirt junior Chris Myarick, redshirt sophomore Jake Robinson and redshirt freshman Kenny Yeboah are among the candidates.

How will the defense look?

The Owls lost several key players, including defensive end Haason Reddick, who is a potential first-round NFL pick at linebacker. Another key loss is coordinator Phil Snow, now at Baylor with former Temple coach Matt Rhule. Collins' forte is D and the former Florida defensive coordinator, along with new Temple defensive coordinator Taver Johnson, will have a number of players vying for starting spots.

One spot that appears secure is safety, where senior Sean Chandler and junior Delvon Randall are the strength of the defense. Senior end Jacob Martin and redshirt junior tackles Michael Dogbe and Freddie Booth-Lloyd head up the defensive line. While the starting linebackers have graduated, Jared Folks leads a group of players who saw time at the position. A key question will be at corner opposite redshirt senior Artrel Foster. Redshirt junior Derrick Thomas, who made great strides after converting to corner from receiver, will be among a number of starting candidates.

How does the offensive line look?

The Owls must replace all-American Athletic Conference left tackle and potential NFL second-day choice Dion Dawkins and center Brendan McGowan. Three returning starters are redshirt senior guard Adrian Sullivan, redshirt sophomore guard Jovahn Fair, and redshirt senior tackle Leon Johnson. Redshirt senior Cole Boozer, who was also used at tight end, and redshirt junior Jaelin Robinson are the most experienced returning tackle candidates.

Who will be the kicker?

When Austin Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury midway through the season, walk-on Aaron Boumerhi came in and excelled. Jones won't be ready to perform in spring practice, so this isn't expected to be decided until preseason camp.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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