Better Late Than Never

When Robby Anderson left the Temple football team at the beginning of the summer, his absence barely made a blip outside the program. Anderson returned to the Owls the day before the opener against Notre Dame. Nobody could have predicted the impact the sophomore has made since.

When Robby Anderson left the Temple football team at the beginning of the summer, his absence barely made a blip outside the program.

In two years, which included a redshirt, Anderson played in just six games – mostly on special teams – and didn't register a catch at wide receiver. He played defensive back in the spring.

Anderson returned to the Owls the day before the opener against Notre Dame. Because of injuries at the wide receiver position, he moved back to offense.

Nobody could have predicted the impact the sophomore has made since.

Despite not recording a catch until the fourth week against Idaho, Anderson leads the team in receiving yards (614) and touchdowns (5) and is second in receptions (31).

"He's brought a dynamic aspect to our offense we didn't have before," said Temple coach Matt Rhule. "He doesn't come off the field. He scores a touchdown and then runs down to cover the kickoff.

"He's s special athlete that can go up and catch a ball with his hands. He's extremely talented and extremely competitive, and we'll get him a little stronger this offseason so he can play at an even higher level."

The 6-foot-3 Anderson has done most of his damage in the last three weeks with 21 catches for 480 yards and all five scores, including eight catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns against No. 15 Central Florida this past Saturday.

"It was frustrating at first, but I had to deal with my consequences," said Anderson. "I couldn't just come back right away and play. I just had to work hard and I knew it would pay off.

"I have confidence in myself. I know that if you have talent and work hard, you'll get results. I treat every play in practice like it's a game. I know what I'm capable of."

Anderson and true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker built a rapport that started in the beginning of the season when Walker was the third-string quarterback and Anderson was working his way back into the good graces of the coaching staff on the scout team.

"Me and P.J. have built a really good relationship," said Anderson. "Every night me and him are in there watching film for at least an hour, 30 minutes. I have trust in him and he has trust in me and it's translating on the field."

Agreed Walker: "Watching film with him, he's coming in late every day studying film and learning how to play this game mentally and physically. He's getting better and better. He knows when you have to keep running and when you don't.

"When I was here in the spring, he was playing cornerback and he was making plays out there, so I was real excited when he came back. Even though things weren't going right (for him), I felt he could help us. When we played on Thursdays with the scout team, we got a good connection."

Anderson left a week into the first summer session to deal with issues at home in Melrose Park, Fla. and for a while felt he wasn't going to return.

"I was trying to figure things out, what was going to be my next move and work things out with my family, whether I was going to stay back home or come back up here," said Anderson. "There were things going on with my family, support for my mother and an aunt who is old. Being away from home used to be stressful, but I learned to grow through it, adjust and adapt.

"I was most likely going to transfer, but things didn't work out and I decided to come back up here. I knew this was the best move for me. I just had to think long about it."

Rhule said he was in contact with Anderson during the summer and felt it was his obligation to try to help him find the right school if he decided he wanted to leave.

"He was trying to figure out where he wanted to go next and I wanted to help Robby find a place to go," said Rhule. "(Even if he was leaving), when you're one of us, you're one of us until the end of time."

Rhule said he liked Anderson at cornerback, though thought he needed to work on the physical part of the game, and said the move back to offense was because of a rash of injuries at the wide receiver position.

"John Christopher was playing with a broken bone in his foot, Romond Deloatch and Sam Benjamin were out for the year," said Rhule. "It was out of necessity more than anything."

Anderson said he wouldn't have minded staying on the defensive side of the ball if that is where the Owls needed him.

"I kind of like playing corner, but I'm glad I'm back (at receiver) now," said Anderson.

Back at wide receiver. Back at Temple.

For Anderson and the Owls it couldn't have worked out much better.

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