Temple hasn't released its depth chart for it Sept. 5 opener at Lincoln Financial Field against Penn State, but it appears as if junior Jahad Thomas has held off some furious competition for the running back spot.
Not only that, but Thomas might be seeing action on both sides of the ball. Thomas said on Friday that he also has been working out as a cornerback.
Yet his No. 1 priority is running back.
With redshirt freshman David Hood, and true freshmen Ryquell Armstead, Jager Gardner and T.J. Simmons providing ample competition, Thomas says it has brought out the best in him.
"I want to be that guy and I am going to come out every day to put my best foot forward and to be that guy," he said.
Last year, the running game struggled mightily.
Thomas, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound product of Elizabeth, (N.J.) High, where he was a teammate of Temple quarterback P.J. Walker, rushed for 384 yards (4.8 average) and no touchdowns. He was the leading rusher for Temple, which shows how little production Temple received from a unit that averaged 3.5 yards per carry.
As the true freshmen have struggled at times to take care of the ball, Thomas has been consistent.
"Jahad is doing a great job," center Kyle Friend said. "I always said it's nice to block for a running back who runs his butt off and puts in the effort to get that extra yard like Jahad."
As a freshman, Thomas was a cornerback who saw most of his time on special teams. At last summer's camp, he made the switch from the secondary to running back.
During this past spring, Thomas worked a little with the defense. In summer camp he was with the offense, but after camp recently broke, Thomas says he began also working on defense.
Thomas, who also could return kicks, admits he has studied mainly Penn State's defense, but will also be looking at the offense, just in case his new number is called.
The reason it is new is that Thomas has gone from No. 34 to No. 5 after earlier in the week earning a single digit.
The single digits are reserved for the nine toughest players on the team, not including offensive linemen who are not eligible due to football rules stating that they must wear numbers between 50-79.
It takes a tough player to go both ways and Thomas said if needed, he is prepared for double duty.
"I definitely expect to get my carries," he said. "But if the defense needs me in any way for any sort of package, I know I have to be ready."
Notes. Just as The Inquirer reported, a limited number of tickets are still available for the opener against Penn State. . . . Temple projected starting left tackle Dion Dawkins was not at practice due to a death in his family, according offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield. . . . On attempting to run against Penn State standout defensive tackle Anthony Zettel (6-4, 284), Satterfield said, "We have to be smart with the way we try to attack them and make sure we don't run at him too much, because he is a load, hard to move."