Tyler Matakevich led the country in unassisted tackles last year, and the junior linebacker is without question the leader of the Temple defense.
But second-year defensive coordinator Phil Snow said the Owls would never have offered Matakevich a scholarship if the current staff was in place when Matakevich was brought aboard.
“The way we’re recruiting now we wouldn’t recruit Tyler because of his speed,” admitted Snow. “He ran a 5-flat (40), we’re not recruiting 5-flat guys. Sometimes you’ll miss out on instinctive kids. You try not to miss on real good players, and there are exceptions. But the thing I try to stress is if you take a lot of exceptions you end up a bad football team.”
Snow said the Owls have size, speed and strength profiles for players they recruit at every position. He also said he looks for some clear indicators of whether a player will have the athleticism to play for the Owls.
“You recruit a skill guy who doesn’t run track, why doesn’t he run track?” asked Snow. “If you’re fast, you run track or if you’re really athletic you play basketball. If you get skill guys who don’t run track or don’t play basketball, what kind of skill does he have?”
Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said Snow has given him some interesting tell-tale signs to look for when recruiting a player with upside.
“You see a kid 210 pounds, he’s 6-4, playing tight end in high school, you see him bending well and he’s explosive … Maybe he’s not the fastest, but he’s explosive and can dunk a basketball,” said Satterfield. “He has big hands, big feet. You meet his mom, she’s 6-foot-1 … He’s probably going to put on 60 more pounds and grow into his body.
“Those are the nuances you learn, and I learned a ton from Coach Snow. He’s got some great things to look for, size of the feet, size of the moms, neck size. He said if a player has a little ol’ face he won’t grow much, but if he has a big ol’ face, he’ll grow into it.
“He looks at me and says ‘Marcus, that only makes sense, the body’s going to grow into the head, right?’ And I said you’re right, I had not thought of that.”
Satterfield, though, said he has developed his own philosophies for recruiting beyond the 40 times.
“I’ve kind of changed my recruiting philosophy,” said Satterfield. “It’s one thing to go to a combine and and get a time and do a drill and see them run fast and do a vertical jump and a broad jump, but sometimes those kids can’t play football.
“The first thing I’m looking for is the character of the kid. Don’t talk to the coach and ask him how fast the kid is, talk to the kid. I really want to know what this kid’s home life is like … I’ve dropped two or three quarterbacks because I asked them what bowl games they liked last year and they couldn’t tell me. You want a guy with character, and a guy that football is important to him.”
A big key for Satterfield is how a student performs academically relative to his abilities in the classroom.
“(Louisville coach) Charlie Strong said it, and it always stuck with me, he had a true belief that what a football player does in the classroom will translate to the playing field,” said Satterfield. “He can shake your hand and speak to you, but if he’s making 2.0, he’s probably an under-achiever on the football field.
“You talk to a kid who has issues looking you in the eye, is kind of shy, isn’t very confident … He may not be Einstein, but you get the transcript and he’s making 2.5, but you find out he’s getting extra help, works extra hard, getting everything from his mind.
“If you’ve isolated him as a good football player, he’ll do the extra stuff after study hall and after practice, outkick his coverage in the classroom and get everything and more on football field. Being a good student doesn’t mean a 4.0. I’ll take a 4.8 (40-time) wideout who is tough and loves football and has high character.”
Satterfield said he asks the position coaches on the staff to follow his lead.
“I’ll say you can rank him No. 1 if you want to, we’re not taking him,” said Satterfield. “We have a demanding checklist we go through. Everything is over-ridden by the head ball coach (Matt Rhule), but he has the same philosophies I do.
“These guys are in college for four years and become men. You fill your roster with grown men, you’ll win some games.”
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