Learning Experience

Jarred Alwan went from playing for the Fighting Irish to playing against the Fighting Irish. It was a big jump. Alwan was a standout linebacker for the Camden Catholic (N.J.) High School Fighting Irish in 2012 who signed his letter of intent to play football for Temple in February 2013. Six months later, Alwan was starting at middle linebacker for Temple against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Jarred Alwan went from playing for the Fighting Irish to playing against the Fighting Irish. It was a big jump.

Alwan was a standout linebacker for the Camden Catholic (N.J.) High School Fighting Irish in 2012 who signed his letter of intent to play football for Temple in February 2013.

A little over six months later, Alwan was starting at middle linebacker for Temple against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the season opener in South Bend. He was the only true freshman starter in the game other than kicker Jim Cooper.

"Last year, I was kind of uncomfortable, now I'm experienced, I know the checks and I'm more comfortable in the defense," admitted Alwan at the end of spring practice "It was tough. I was like a deer in the headlights. It was a whole new level of competition. Practices aren't the same, the game is a whole different level. It was a tough year."

Alwan finished the opening game with two assisted tackles and the season with 20 tackles, two for loss, with a sack and a pass defense as one of three true freshmen to play all 12 games. The sack came against Central Florida's Blake Bortles, who will be one of the top picks in this week's NFL draft.

"He's a really smart player who played a lot as a freshman and we would have loved to have been able to redshirt him," said head coach Matt Rhule. "Moving forward, we'd like to see him become more consistent physically in the run game and that comes with being a little older. With (starting middle linebacker) Nate D. (Smith) out (at the end of spring), he had a chance to run with the ones and make some plays. We need all those guys."

In the spring-ending Cherry and White Game, Alwan intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, hopefully setting the stage for the type of big play he and the defense will provide this season. In 2013, the Owls struggled to force turnovers.

"(Defensive coordinator Phil) Snow the first day of spring ball said we need to create turnovers, prevent big plays and play six seconds hard," said Alwan. "My interception was a Tampa-2 and I just ran through it like I'm supposed to do. I didn't do it all spring. My coaches yelled at me all spring to run through, and I didn't do it and that was the first time I did.

"We've been having meetings every other day (helping me) to know the defense, make my checks and control the offense, know where everybody's at. That's what's important for me. This spring has been big (in my development). I'm pretty comfortable setting the defense up now (compared to) where I was a year ago."

Alwan has a battle to crack the starting lineup in this year's season opener at Vanderbilt. Tyler Matakevich and Smith seem entrenched in their spots, leaving Alwan to battle for an outside linebacker spot or provide depth in the middle.

"I want to start, that's always the goal," said Alwan. "I feel I can play anywhere."

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