The Temple quarterback spot is far from settled, and presumably all four candidates are still in the running to start the opener Sept. 2 at Notre Dame. But one who continues to make strides is freshman Todd Centeio.
He is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound dual threat from William T. Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., who enrolled at Temple in January, and has at the least made a favorable impression on his teammates.
“I like little Toddy,” starting strong safety Delvon Randall said. “He is showing up and really impressing me as a freshman.”
It’s still early enough that Centeio could end up starting, being a backup, or redshirting. But no matter how he fares, Centeio won’t perform quietly. He hasn’t been shy about giving the defense a piece of his mind.
“I’ve never seen a quarterback talk to the defense [as he does] when they make a play,” Randall said, laughing. “He talks just the way we talk. He talks a lot of stuff.”
Centeio can’t talk to the media because first-year coach Geoff Collins hasn’t allowed incoming freshmen to be interviewed.
The quarterbacks battling to replace four-year starter Phillip Walker are redshirt junior Frank Nutile, redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, redshirt freshman Anthony Russo, and Centeio.
Randall admires the spunk that Centeio has shown in trash-talking with the defense.
“I want my quarterback to trash-talk,” Randall said.
If Centeio earns the job, it won’t be because of what he says, but how he performs. Statistically, he had the best spring game of the four candidates, completing nine of 13 passes for 110 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
Collins has worked out all of his quarterbacks at times with the first unit, and Sunday, Centeio was especially effective in the brief time the media was able to watch.
According to Collins, Centeio had been up and down in fall camp up until Sunday, which could be a way to describe all four candidates.
Temple will have team scrimmages the next two Saturdays, and sometime after that, Collins and offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude are expected to make the call on the starter.
“We’ll see who is moving the offense when we go live,” Collins said.
Centeio has the ability to keep defenses honest with his running ability.
“He keeps us on our feet because he can run or throw,” Randall said. “When he scrambles, we have to stay in coverage because he will throw it, but he can also run so we have to be aware to come out of coverage quickly and make the tackle.”
During his senior season, Centeio was much more of a passer than runner. He threw for 2,344 yards and 31 touchdowns, and rushed for four scores.
“You could see he reminds you a little bit of PJ,” free safety Sean Chandler said, referring to Walker.
Walker didn’t make his first start until his sixth college game. No matter which of the four candidates earns the starting spot, keeping the job might be more difficult.
Centeio has kept himself in the conversation.
“Todd is really athletic, really versatile, and he can run and throw,” said redshirt senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch. “He is a young guy who makes young mistakes sometimes, but Toddy is a great player and he is out competing for the quarterback position.”
And Centeio is not going about his business as a typical freshman.
“He talks his mess,” Finch said, laughing. “What I like is he backs it up, so more power to him.”
Notes: It was announced Wednesday by ESPN that two of its games Thursday night games involving Temple will both start at 8 o’clock. The games are Sept. 21 at South Florida and Nov. 2 at Lincoln Financial Field against Navy.
Here is Temple’s schedule with the known start times.
Sat. Sept. 2 at Notre Dame, 3:30 pm. (NBC)
Sat. Sept. 9 Villanova, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Fri. Sept. 15 UMass, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Thurs. Sept. 21 at South Florida, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Sat. Sept. 30 Houston
Sat. Oct. 7 at East Carolina
Sat. Oct. 14 Connecticut
Oct. 21 at Army, Noon (CBS Sports Network)
Thurs. Nov. 2 Navy, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Fri. Nov. 10 at Cincinnati (ESPN2)
Sat. Nov. 18 Central Florida
Sat. Nov. 25 at Tulsa