Eight Former Owls Prepare to Chase NFL Dreams

PHILADELPHIA – This past weekend the National Football League held its 2022 Draft. Five members of last year’s Temple Football team, and three others who graduated from Temple but transferred to play their final season elsewhere, are now chasing their dreams of playing in the NFL.

Arnold Ebiketie was the first to have his name called when the Atlanta Falcons selected him in the second round with the 38th overall selection. Following the 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), safety Amir Tyler (Bears), center CJ Perez (Bills), defensive end Manny Walker (Vikings), and quarterback Anthony Russo (Panthers) were all offered camp tryouts.

This gives Temple 35 active players participating in NFL camps this summer.

Ebikeitie, a native of Cameroon, led Temple in sacks, TFLs, and forced fumbles in 2020 before transferring to Penn State for his final season. Following his first three seasons seeing 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 fumble recovery, in game two vs. USF, was returned for a score which turned the tide of the game, and gave Temple the victory.

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

Graham-Mobley was Temple’s 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy nominee. A true team leader, he was also Temple’s nominee for the Wuerffel, Witten, Senior CLASS, and AFCA Good Works Team for his leadership and community service. Graham-Mobley was the first non-starter to earn a single-digit – Temple awards single-digit jerseys to its toughest players on and off the field. 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 adding a Covid season in 2020). He played wide receiver for his first three seasons – catching 12 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown – and was moved to cornerback in 2019. The Fort Myers, Fla., Native was a standout on special teams and recorded his first career interception at East Carolina in 2021.

Tyler broke into the starting lineup in 2019 and went on to start the final 23 games of his career. During that time he amassed 160 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. The Lakewood, NJ, native was named captain of the team 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 earning his undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois. The Shawnee, Kansas, native went on to start all 19 games at center for the Owls from 2020-21, 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 saw a plenty of action over the last two seasons. The Holly Hills, SC native, who earned a degree in communications from Wake Forest, was a big-play force for the Owls. He had 3.0 sacks, 9.5 TFLs, 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 Doylestown, Pa., Native holds the school record for completions in a season (246 in 2019) as well as in a game (41 at 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 from Temple.

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

Pos Player Coach School NFL Team Rd / Overall
CB Kaiir Elam Jules Montinar Florida Buffalo 1st-23
CB Martin Emerson Adam Scheier Mississippi State Cleveland 3rd-68
LB Kyron Johnson DJ Eliot Kansas Philadelphia 6th-181
RB Keaontay Ingram Stan Drayton ^ Texas Arizona 6th-201
WR Bo Melton Adam Scheier Rutgers Seattle 7th-229
DB Tre Avery Adam Scheier Rutgers Tennessee UDFA
RB Raheem Blackshear Jafar Williams Virginia Tech Buffalo UDFA
CB Damascus Fields Adam Scheier Texas Tech New Orleans UDFA
WR Changa Hodge Jafar Williams Virginia Tech Arizona UDFA
DL Manny Jones Antoine Smith Colorado State Arizona UDFA
LB Tyreek Maddox-Williams Adam Scheier Rutgers LA Chargers UDFA
DL Scott Patchan Antoine Smith Colorado State Indianapolis UDFA
DL Caeveon Patton Withers / Woods Texas State Indianapolis UDFA
WR JaVonta Payton Adam Scheier * Mississippi State Arizona UDFA
RB D’vonte Price Sean Binckes Florida International Indianapolis UDFA
WR Three Turners Jafar Williams Virginia Tech Las Vegas UDFA
CB Josh Valentine-Turner Everett Withers Florida International Seattle UDFA
LS Billy Taylor Adam Scheier Rutgers NY Jets tryout

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

Draft Notes:

  • This is the seventh straight year that Temple has sent at least one player to the NFL. That marks the second longest streak in school history – Temple sent players to the NFL in every year from 1979-89.
  • Temple’s 2016 recruiting class has now produced 12 NFL players out of the 26 signees.
  • Temple’s 2016 AAC Championship team has now placed 47 players into the professional 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, DE Branden Mack, DE Jacob Martin, DE Praise 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 the 138th selection in 2012 – remain active in the NFL.

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