TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. — Temple went to the beach on Tuesday, and 23 of its players had to wear some very un-beach-like garb.
That’s because for the third straight year at a bowl game, caps and gowns were part of the wardrobe for a large segment of the team.
The Owls had a picture taken with the 23 players who will have earned their degree after the current fall semester ends. They will already be graduates when when Temple (6-6) meets Florida International University (8-4) in Thursday’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg (8 p.m., ESPN).
Nine of those players had already earned their degrees before the fall semester. Fourteen more completed their course work this fall.
The 23 players are: OL Cole Boozer, OL Brian Carter, WR Marshall Ellick, DE Sharif Finch, LB Jared Folks, DB Artrel Foster, RB David Hood, LB Cequan Jefferson, WR Adonis Jennings, OL Leon Johnson, DB Mike Jones, WR Keith Kirkwood, LS Josh Lang, DE Jacob Martin, OL James McHale, QB Frank Nutile, OL Aaron Ruff, FB Nick Sharga, LB Chris Smith, OL Adrian Sullivan, DT Jullian Taylor, DB Derrek Thomas and DB Jyquis Thomas.
“I think if you have any aspirations to go to the next level in this beautiful game we play, it only helps you out to graduate in three-and-a-half years,” said Martin, who earned a communications degree in 3.5 years. “That is a goal.”
Boozer, a redshirt senior who is Temple’s starting right offensive tackle, has made the most of his five years. He earned his undergraduate degree in adult organizational development, and is now pursuing his master’s degree sports business.
“We have a great academic culture here,” Boozer said. He praised Justin Miller, Temple’s senior associate athletic director for academic and career services, for doing “a great job. … Honestly, we are spoiled because Justin Miller and his staff give us every chance to succeed.”
According to statistics provided by Temple, since 2014, 83 of 87 senior football players have earned their degrees. Of the four left, two are still enrolled, while the other two plan to enroll this spring to continue their work toward a degree. Thirty-nine players graduated with eligibility remaining, six have earned master’s degrees, and three more — including Boozer — are enrolled in graduate school.
“To have 23 kids graduating college and playing in a bowl, game, I have been to a lot of great places and never seen anything like that,” Owls coach Geoff Collins said.