Added Meaning

Temple middle linebacker Nate Smith has broad shoulders, and they can hold a pretty big chip. The redshirt freshman middle linebacker admitted he will be motivated Saturday when the Owls host Rutgers because he wasn't recruited to play for the Scarlet Knights. Meanwhile, cornerback Abdul Smith, who transferred to Temple from Rutgers in 2010, also could have been lining up on the other side.

Temple middle linebacker Nate Smith has broad shoulders, and they can hold a pretty big chip.

The Owls' freshman is a North Jersey native whose brother, L.J., played tight end for Rutgers as a precursor to a career in the NFL.

But Smith, who was a three-time all-state selection at Highland Park High School, wasn't recruited by Rutgers. He'll have a chance to show that was a mistake when the Scarlet Knights visit the Owls at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.

"Most definitely, me being a North Jersey guy, I thought they would recruit me, but it is what it is," said Smith. "I just have to go out there and play. I'm going to come out with a chip on my shoulder."

Smith said he received no more than a couple interest letters from Rutgers. Would he have become a Scarlet Knight if they showed interest?

"Probably if they would have, but Temple gave me an offer and stuck with me," said Smith.

Smith committed to the Owls, then re-committed after a year at Fork Union Military Academy. He is Temple's starting middle linebacker and leading the team in tackles as a redshirt freshman.

For cornerback Abdul Smith, this game will also have some extra meaning. He spent the 2009 season and following spring at Rutgers as a redshirt before deciding to transfer to Temple.

"There was a coaching change with my position coach, and the campus. .. .You had to drive around to get places," said Abdul Smith. "I'm a city guy from Trenton. I wanted to go to a city school."

Abdul Smith had to sit out the 2010 season as a transfer and played sparingly a year ago. But this season, he has solidified his spot on the two-deep and split snaps with Zamel Johnson against Connecticut last week.

The Huskies didn't score with Smith on the field in the Owls' come-from-behind 17-14 overtime victory.

"Coming out of high school, you're big-headed, everybody tells you how good you are and you think you'll play immediately," said Abdul Smith, now a junior. "But I wasn't playing at Rutgers, wasn't playing here. I finally started playing a lot during the UConn game. I played the second and fourth quarters and overtime. We got a little rotation going. We made some adjustments and pulled through."

Abdul Smith said he attended the Rutgers spring game this year and hung out with some of his former teammates. He still has a decent number of friends on the team.

"I wouldn't say this game is personal, but I have some tips and hints because I went against them in practice, " said Abdul Smith. "I know some of their tendencies. (Wide receiver) Mark Harrison was a guy I went against a lot in practice.

"I met up with some of them for the spring game, but I was just watching (the game) and keeping my eyes open. I remember a lot from freshman year and I just have to go back and watch some old tapes."

Because Rutgers is undefeated and ranked No. 15 nationally and the Owls have started 2-0 in the Big East, a crowd of close to 40,000 is expected with first place in the conference on the line.

"Everybody's excited to go out there and play, you can just feel it," said Nate Smith.

Some might be more excited than others.

Owls Daily Top Stories