Saturday will see Nick Temple’s time as a Cincinnati football player come to a close. In the weeks leading up to the Military Bowl, Temple achieved the goal he set out to do when he left Warren Central High School as a player many said was too short and not big enough to play on the big stage.
“It’s been exciting as I was the first person in my family to ever attend college and now to finish college,” said Temple. “So it was a big accomplishment for me and my family. My mother and family are so happy for me.
“But it was not only about me as other teammates also graduated and that is what we do here at Cincinnati. Not only do we graduate, we win championships. That is what this program is all about.”
While Temple may take his Bearcats jersey off for a final time when the Bearcats battle Virginia Tech on Saturday in the Military Bowl, like those before him, he’ll be watching and will not be afraid to reach back to give encouragement if the team is struggling like a few of his former teammates did when the Bearcats defense had its struggles.
“We took those three games to heart,” he said. “Following the one we lost to Miami, I spoke with the team that Sunday and told them we can’t go down like this. This program is known for playing great defense and I played great defense with guys like Derek Wolfe, Dan Giordano, Walter Stewart and J.K. Schaffer.
“After that Miami game, those guys were texting me and telling me I had to get it going. I took that to heart as they had always told me that one day it was going to be my turn to lead and that I couldn’t take it for granted as I would have to go out and lead the younger guys and the rest of my teammates.”
Not only did Temple look to lead this season he hopes others look at his journey to see what one can do if they set their mind to it.
“I never let what anyone said get to me,” he stressed. “People said I was too short or didn’t weigh enough but I never let that get me down and used it as motivation. Every day, I look at that and come out here and practice to get better. Height doesn’t mean anything as anyone can be short and play this game.
“It’s all about what you have in your heart and you can either play or you can’t. So I stress that to my teammates and if they can take anything away from me, I hope they please take that as I showed them the way.”
While some have asked Temple to reflect on his career, he stresses there is still one more game to play.
“Every coach has asked how it feels to be done with my last game,” he said. “I keep telling them we have one more game and I’m going to finish it strong. There are things I hope I get a chance to do when I leave here (NFL), but I’m not thinking about anything other than going out and playing in this final game with my guys here. I just want to go out on game day and play.”
When pushed Temple did look back a little bit and reflect on his journey.
“It’s crazy to look back and remember the first day I stepped on campus,” he said. “Everyone told me it would go by fast and it has. But I didn’t take any day for granted and worked hard. It’s going to be hard leaving these teammates and all the memories I have here at Cincinnati. But those memories I’ll always have and they will continue to get better when it is done.”