Linebacker was Temple’s most experienced unit last year, with an all-senior starting unit of Avery Williams, Stephaun Marshall and Jarred Alwan. The difference this year will be drastic. Most of the top contributors are sophomores, and it will be a much more athletic group.
A player with great potential is sophomore Shaun Bradley (Rancocas Valley), who appeared in 11 games last year despite battling injuries. He’s also taken reps at running back, which shows his athleticism. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Bradley is a little small by middle-linebacker standards, but he can run with virtually every running back and receiver.
Bradley missed the first two games because of injury last season and must prove he can hold up physically to the demands. Coach Geoff Collins says Bradley could play for any team in the country.
Two other sophomore speedsters are Sam Franklin and William Kwenkeu, who saw action in 14 and 13 games, respectively, mainly on special teams. Franklin and Bradley might be the best two athletes among the linebackers.
The player with the most experience is redshirt junior Jared Folks, who started five games last season at middle linebacker, appeared in 13 overall, and had 32 tackles. Folks was injured during the spring, and it appears Bradley has supplanted him.
Redshirt sophomore Chapelle Russell is another outstanding athlete, one who suffered a torn right ACL in mid-November but he insists he will be ready for the opener Sept. 2 at Notre Dame. Another redshirt sophomore, Jeremiah Atoki (Vineland) is a converted safety who will also aid the Owls in coverage. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Graham-Mobley (Upper Merion) is another young linebacker with good speed, and he will compete for time.
Don’t be surprised if two different linebacker units see action during games. This group will hope to make up for its relative lack of experience with exceptional athleticism.