Eight former owls prepare to chase NFL dreams


PHILADELPHIA — The National Football League held its 2022 draft last weekend. Five members of Temple’s football team last year and three others who graduated from Temple but transferred to play their final seasons elsewhere, continue now their dream of playing in the NFL.

Arnold Ebiketie was the first to bear his name when the Atlanta Falcons selected him in the second round with the 38and global selection. Post-draft, offensive lineman Michael Niese signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos and Isaiah Graham-Mobley also signed as an undrafted free agent with Carolina. Cornerback Freddie Johnson (Jets), security Amir Tyler (Bear), center CJ Perez (Bills), defensive end Manny Walker (Vikings) and quarterback Anthony Russo (Panthers) were all offered tryouts at camp.

That gives Temple 35 active players attending NFL camps this summer.

Ebikeitie, a native of Cameroon, led Temple in sacks, TFLs and forced fumbles in 2020 before moving to Penn State for his final season. After his first three seasons with limited action at Temple, his stellar 2020 season saw him play in six games with 42 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 4.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. That recovered fumble, in Game 2 against USF, was dismissed for a score that turned the tide of the game and gave Temple the victory.

Niese, a native of Chesterfield, Mo., played two seasons for Temple after being transferred from Dayton in 2020. He started all 14 games he played in 2020-21, including starts at four different locations on the line offense (guard and tackle positions). In 2021, Niese was nominated for Temple’s William V. Campbell Trophy, an award known as the “Academic Heisman” which recognizes an individual as the absolute best in the nation for combined academic achievement, football performance and leadership. copy. Niese was a starter for Dayton for three years before coming to Temple. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering and was working on his master’s degree in engineering at Temple. Last summer, he worked as an intern at Boeing.

Graham-Mobley was the nominee for Temple’s 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy. A true team leader, he has also been nominated by Temple for Team Wuerffel, Witten, Senior CLASS and AFCA Good Works for his leadership and community service. Graham-Mobley was the first non-runner to win a single-digit jersey – Temple awards single-digit jerseys to its toughest players on and off the court. Although not a starter, he played alongside three linebackers who eventually made it to the NFL – Shaun Bradley (Eagles), Sam Franklin (Panthers) and Chapelle Russell (Jaguars). After playing 34 games and amassing 151 tackles for the Owls, he transferred to Boston College in 2021.

Johnson played six seasons at Temple and was the first player to earn five letters (due to the addition of a Covid season in 2020). He played wide receiver for his first three seasons — catching 12 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown — and moved to cornerback in 2019. The Fort Myers, Fla. native stood out in the special teams and recorded his first career interception at East Carolina in 2021.

Tyler broke into the starting lineup in 2019 and has started the final 23 games of his career. During that time, he amassed 160 tackles, 8.0 TFL, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. The Lakewood, NJ native was named team captain in 2021 and responded by leading the Owls with 76 tackles despite missing two games due to injury.

Perez came to Temple in 2020 after completing his undergraduate degree in northern Illinois. The Shawnee, Kansas native went on to start all 19 games at center for the 2020 Owls at 21, the only player to start every game for Temple during that span. He was also the only owl to earn All-American Athletic Conference honors in 2021.

Like Perez, Walker transferred to Temple in 2020 and has seen plenty of action over the past two seasons. The Holly Hills, SC native, who earned a communications degree from Wake Forest, was a significant playing force for the Owls. He had 3.0 sacks, 9.5 TFL, a forced fumble and led Temple with two interceptions in 2021.

Russo was the Owls’ starting quarterback from 2018-20. He ranks among Temple’s all-time leaders in passing yards (6,287), touchdowns (44), attempts (899) and completions ( 536). The native of Doylestown, Pennsylvania holds the school record for completions in a season (246 in 2019) as well as in a game (41 in Memphis in 2020). Following the 2020 season, Russo transferred to Michigan State.

Johnson and Tyler (human development and community engagement), Ebiketie (sports management), Graham-Mobley (media studies and production), and Russo (advertising) all earned their undergraduate degrees at Temple.

In addition to these Temple products earning a shot in the NFL, Temple’s current coaching staff is proud of the players they’ve developed in their previous stops. Included in this list:

Pos Player Coach school NFL team Rd/Global
CC Kaiir Elam Jules Montinar Florida Buffalo 1st-23
CC Martin Emerson Adam Schier Mississippi State Cleveland 3rd-68
KG Kyron Johnson DJ Eliot Kansas philadelphia cream 6th-181
RB Keaontay Ingram Stan Drayton ^ Texas Arizona 6th-201
WR Bo Melton Adam Schier Rutgers Seattle 7th-229
comics Tre Avery Adam Schier Rutgers Tennessee UDFA
RB Raheem Blackshear Jafar Williams Virginia Tech Buffalo UDFA
CC Damascus Fields Adam Schier Texas technology New Orleans UDFA
WR Changa Hodge Jafar Williams Virginia Tech Arizona UDFA
DL Manny Jones Anthony Smith state of colorado Arizona UDFA
KG Tyreek Maddox-Williams Adam Schier Rutgers LA Chargers UDFA
DL Scott Patchan Anthony Smith state of colorado Indianapolis UDFA
DL Caeveon Patton Withers/Antlers state of texas Indianapolis UDFA
WR JaVonta Payton Adam Schier * State of Mississippi Arizona UDFA
RB Honor Award Sean Bincke Florida International Indianapolis UDFA
WR Tre Turner Jafar Williams Virginia Tech Vegas UDFA
CC Josh Valentine Turner Everett Withers Florida International Seattle UDFA
LS BillyTaylor Adam Schier Rutgers New York Jets try

^ – Drayton coached Ingram in Texas before Ingram transferred to USC
* – Scheier coached Payton at Mississippi State before Payton transferred to Tennessee

Provisional notes:

  • This is the seventh straight year that Temple has sent at least one player to the NFL. It marks the second-longest streak in school history — Temple sent players to the NFL every year from 1979 to 1989.
  • Temple’s 2016 recruiting class has now produced 12 NFL players from the 26 signings.
  • Temple’s 2016 AAC Championship team has now placed 47 players in the pro ranks. DT Daniel Archibong, RB Ryquell Armstead, DT Freddie Booth-Lloyd, OL Cole Boozer, LB Shaun Bradley, DT Josiah Bronson, WR Ventell Bryant, SAF Sean Chandler, OL Dion Dawkins, TE Romond Deloatch, DT Michael Dogbe, WR Marshall Ellick, DE Avery Ellis, OL Jovahn Fair, DE Sharif Finch, SAF Sam Franklin, LB Isaiah Graham-Mobley, CB Nate Hairston, C Matt Hennessy, WR Adonis Jennings, CB Freddie JohnsonOL Leon Johnson, WR Keith Kirkwood, DE Dana Levine, WR Branden Mack, DE Jacob Martin, DE Louange Martin-Oguike, DE Zack Mesday, TE Chris Myarick, SAF Delvon Randall, DE Haason Reddick, FB Rob Ritrovato, OL Jaelin Robinson, DE Quincy Roche, LB Chapelle Russell, QB Anthony Russo, FB Nick Sharga, WR Cortrelle Simpson, DT Jullian Taylor, CB Derrek Thomas, RB Jahad Thomas, TE Colin Thompson, SAF Amir TylerQB Phillip Walker, LB Avery Williams, WR Isaiah Wright, TE Kenny Yeboah.
  • The last 15 players who were drafted from Temple – dating back to Tahir Whitehead as 138and selection in 2012 – stay active in the NFL.


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