Temple's Geoff Collins has high praise for center Matt Hennessy, safety Keyvone Bruton

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Matt Hennessy appeared in all but one of the Owls’ games last season, and he’s gearing up for another strong campaign at center in 2018.

Safety Keyvone Bruton has been the talk of spring, so it wasn’t surprising when Temple coach Geoff Collins cited him as the defensive player who had caught his eye. Bruton, a redshirt sophomore, appeared in only two games last year, but he’s a major candidate for a position opposite returning all-conference performer Delvon Randall.

The talk of the spring on the other side of the ball, however, was surprising: redshirt sophomore center Matt Hennessy.

The reason it is surprising? Hennessy more than caught Collins’ eye last season. He started 12 games and missed just one because of illness. Hennessy, according to his coaches, was highly productive as a freshman.

Now, the 6-foot-4, 295-pounder apparently has taken his play to a new level.

“Offensively, the kid who stood out every practice was Matt Hennessy,” Collins said Wednesday during the American Athletic Conference football coaches conference call. “He started almost every game, and I think he is a big-time player in this conference and nationally and every day you watch him, he is better and better.”

Hennessy, like so many of Temple’s linemen, played multiple positions during spring workouts, providing the type of versatility that Collins is seeking. He’s emerged as a true leader of the line.

Also on the conference call, Collins reiterated that redshirt freshman quarterback Todd Centeio is not moving positions. There has been speculation because Centeio is a dynamic running threat and has lined up at running back and receiver occasionally at practice.

“There have been a barrage of questions about him playing other positions, and there is no thought to that whatsoever,” Collins said. “He is a quarterback, a big-time quarterback in this program.”

Temple went 7-6 in Collins’ first season, and beat FIU, 28-3, in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. The Owls won four of their final five games, and Collins said Wednesday that he feels Temple can build off that season-ending run.

Temple will open the season Sept. 1 at Lincoln Financial Field against Villanova.

Around the AAC

In other AAC news, virtually every coach said he was pleased with the development of his team this spring, no shock. … Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry, who moved from receiver late last season, is back and has looked impressive this spring, according to coach Ken Niumatalolo. Perry, who rushed for 250 yards and a 68-yard score in Navy’s 14-13 loss to Army at Lincoln Financial Field, suffered a foot injury in a 49-7 win over Virginia in the Military Bowl. “He hurt his foot in the bowl game, but you couldn’t tell the way he has been running [this spring],” Niumatalolo said … The toughest coaching job goes to Josh Heupel, the former Missouri offensive coordinator who takes over at defending AAC champion Central Florida, which went 13-0 last season under Scott Frost (now at Nebraska). “The job for me and my staff is to push this place to be better every day,” Heupel said. … South Florida coach Charlie Strong listed junior Brett Kean and sophomore Chris Oladokun as the leading candidates to replace quarterback Quinton Flowers, the 2016 AAC offensive player of the year and a second-team all-conference choice last season.