Herbin Legend

When the Temple football players drafted the teams for last Saturday's Cherry and White Game, starting quarterback P.J. Walker went first overall. No surprise there. But the White's top draft pick made by senior running back Kenny Harper – wide receiver Khalif Herbin – was a surprise even to the player himself.

When the Temple football players drafted the teams for last Saturday's Cherry and White Game, starting quarterback P.J. Walker went first overall.

No surprise there.

But the White's top draft pick made by senior running back Kenny Harper – wide receiver Khalif Herbin – was a surprise even to the player himself.

Herbin, though, lived up to his selection in the game, catching five passes for 93 yards, including the White's only touchdown - a 66-yard catch-and-run - in a 10-9 win over the Cherry.

"I don't think I would have picked myself No. 1, but that being said I could see how highly my teammates thought of me," said Herbin, who said center Kyle Friend would have been his pick. "I was very surprised. I'm not where I need to be by any means, but I'm working and I'm buying in and understanding what the coaches want from me."

According to coach Matt Rhule, Herbin's selection as No. 1 wasn't as surprising it looked.

"The whole team recognizes what he can do," said Rhule. "You have to find ways to get the ball in his hands and as a returner I think he'll be special."

The 5-foot-7, 170-pounder was the Star-Ledger's Player of the Year for New Jersey in 2011, but he saw sporadic time as a true freshman, mostly playing special teams. While lamenting that Herbin played so little in using a year of eligibility his freshman year under previous coach Steve Addazio, head coach Matt Rhule opted to redshirt Herbin his second year.

The benefits could come this season and in the future as Herbin has the potential to be an impact player the next three years.

"I wasn't really happy about (redshirting), but I thought of all the positives that could come out of it," said Herbin. "I went to the weight room and went on the scout team and worked on my craft. I gave the defense the best possible look I could and felt (my role) was just as important as anybody else."

While a different player from last year's leading receiver, Robby Anderson, who left the program, Herbin feels he can fill the void and become Walker's new go-to receiver.

"I was kind of disappointed (Walker) went No. 1 to the Cherry and I went No. 1 to the White," said Herbin. "The last few practices it's been on. We have a good relationship. I like playing for a quarterback like that.

"I felt like I was going to get more snaps regardless of whether (Anderson) was here or not, but it kind of hurt a little bit knowing he wasn't going to be here because he's a tremendous player. But I think we'll be all right. We have more than enough to recover from that."

Walker believes Herbin can step in and be his top receiver as well after working with him for the entire spring.

"Right now that's my guy," said Walker. "He can make a lot plays with his feet and getting vertical. He's going to be a great help that nobody's seen yet."

Herbin is relishing his opportunity and shows an appreciation for where he is and the chance in front of him. He feels an obligation to the people who have supported him.

"I really enjoy this, I really enjoy football and I've felt very blessed," said Herbin. "There's a lot of people at home who wish they were in my shoes, a lot of people in my family who wish they could go to college. When you see how hard the coaches work, it makes you want to work extra hard. They're counting on you to feed their families and I'm getting a free education."

Herbin feels he can follow in the footsteps of former running back Matt Brown, a 5-foot-5 sparkplug who played his senior year when Herbin was a freshman. The two still stay in touch.

"He was a small guy just like me, and every practice he would go hard, no matter how he felt," said Herbin. "I took heed to that. If he can do it, why can't I?"

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