Temple football coach Matt Rhule noted true freshman cornerback Sean Chandler
has been a “pick-a-day” player during training camp.
It’s that ball-hawking ability on a team that totaled just three interceptions last year that has the Camden, N.J. native ready to be an impact player from the get-go for the Owls.
Chandler has impressed so much he was awarded one of the single-digit numbers as one of the tough guys on the team.
“I don’t know (if he starts), but he’s on his way,” said Temple coach Matt Rhule on the eve of the Owls’ final scrimmage before next Thursday’s game at Vanderbilt. “His teammates voted him one of the tough guys. He works his tail off, he’s done everything we’ve asked.
“He’s gonna play. You talk about freshmen, you don’t know what you’re going to get, but the future is bright. He’s a great kid. I think the (interceptions in practice will translate to games), but if it doesn’t now it will eventually.”
Junior linebacker Tyler Matakevich
also sees great promise in Chandler.
“He’s impressive,” said Matakevich. “The kid’s unbelievable. When we need him to make a play, third-and-long, two-minute, we tell him ‘Come on Sean, we need you.’ The kid steps up and rises to the occasion. You don’t get that a lot from young guys.
“He’s really something special. He’s a ballhawk, intercepting (quarterbacks) P.J. (Walker) and Connor (Reilly). He has that instinct we need. “
Chandler, who totaled 60 tackles and eight interceptions his senior year at Camden, believed from the beginning of training camp he had a shot to be in the lineup for the first game.
“I’m definitely happy, each day I’m getting better and better and I’m trying to carry it over to game week,” said Chandler. “I definitely expected it. I always have to come in with high expectations and hope for the best. Everything turned out in my favor.”
Chandler said defensive backs coach Francis Brown – who has also been key to the Owls’ South Jersey recruiting – has helped with the transition and emphasized the need for turnovers.
“The DB coach sets that motive for us, to every day go out and get at least three interceptions,” said Chandler. “It’s been impressed a lot the whole camp. Every day (create) turnovers, and (Brown) has made the playbook simpler than it actually is for us.”
Chandler also knows turnarounds. The Panthers were 1-9 his sophomore year, 4-5 his junior season and 10-1 in his final campaign. So when he sees a quick turnaround for an Owls team that was 2-10 last year, he speaks from experience.
“We’ve definitely got some really good kids,” said Chandler. “Wer’re building each day and getting ready for game week.”
With the field surface at Edberg-Olson Hall undergoing a makeover during the spring, the Owls took their practices on the road. To Chandler’s delight, they spent their early mornings at Camden several times a week.
“I was able to go out and watch a little bit before I had to get to school,” said Chandler.
Rhule believes Chandler and fellow freshman Anthony Davis
will both be key contributers to the secondary now and well into the future. A freshman class that came in well-regarded is already paying dividends.
“Those guys have something, you combine him with Anthony Davis, Cequan Jefferson
, the other guys in the secondary and we really recruited well, they were all hits,” said Rhule. “Champ (Chandler) and Anthony have come in, grinded and worked. We know we need 4-5 corners in this league. They’re ready, they’re really good players.”
The cornerback's ball-hawking skills have been on display at practice, and he has impressed his coaches and teammates.