Anderson returns to Temple
In what could potentially be a season-altering turn of events for Matt Rhule's Temple football team, former wide receiver Robby Anderson has re-enrolled at his former university with the intent of playing football again, OwlScoop.com has learned through multiple sources.
Anderson, who caught 44 passes for 791 yards and nine touchdowns in 2013, would provide a major boost to a Temple offense that missed him last season if he were to become eligible in time for the Owls' Sept. 5 opener against Penn State at Lincoln Financial Field.
Anderson missed the 2014 season after being dismissed from Temple for academic reasons and was initially in a situation that would not have allowed him to return to the university in time to complete his athletic career with the Owls. Now it appears the door is open for Anderson to re-enroll and potentially rejoin the team. Anderson, who spent the last year taking courses at a Florida community college, planned on playing football for Division II Florida Tech before learning recently that he would be able to re-enroll at Temple.
It is unclear at this point as to whether Anderson would have one or two seasons of eligibility remaining with the Owls.
Anderson burst onto the scene as a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Rhule's first season as Temple's head coach. While the Owls stumbled to a 2-10 season, Anderson's yardage total was the fifth-most in a season in Temple history, and his receiving touchdown total left him in third place all time.
The production came as a bit of a surprise at the time, considering Anderson had left the program due to personal reasons and did not return until the fall semester. And prior to his initial departure, Anderson had been practicing primarily as a defensive back during the spring before making the switch back to receiver.
After sitting out the first two games of the 2013 season, Anderson registered a kick return in a loss to Fordham before securing his first career catches the next week at Idaho. Over the course of the last nine games, which coincided with the emergence of Anderson and then-freshman quarterback P.J. Walker, Temple averaged 27.9 points and 269.8 passing yards per game.
Without Anderson last year, however, Temple's offense took a step back and averaged just 23.1 points and 200.7 passing yards per game. Walker, in particular, suffered from Anderson's absence and experienced drops in passing yards per game (231.6 to 193.1), passing touchdowns (20 to 13), yards per attempt (8.3 to 6.1) and quarterback rating (150.8 to 107.7). Meanwhile, Walker nearly doubled his interception total from eight in 2013 to 15 in 2014. Thanks to a stout defense, however, the Owls' overall record improved to 6-6.
So what could Anderson's return mean for Temple? Plenty.
While the Owls return all 11 starters from a group that finished fourth nationally in scoring defense, most of the questions marks heading into the season lie with the offense, which graduated its top two playmakers from 2014 in leading receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick and running back Kenny Harper, who led the team with five rushing touchdowns and was also the Owls' second-leading receiver with 27 catches.
With Anderson potentially back in the fold, Temple would once again have a receiver who could blow the top off a defense and take a lot of pressure off wideouts like Ventell Bryant, Sam Benjamin and John Christopher. That trio, one that was being counted upon heading into preseason camp in August as Walker's likely top three receiving options, had a combined 24 catches last season, with all of them coming from Christopher, who didn't practice during the spring due to an injury. Benjamin, who caught a touchdown pass in April's spring game, has only recently returned to the offense after playing as a defensive back and on special teams last season, and Bryant is a redshirt freshman who will be playing in his first college football game this season.
Anderson's deep-threat capability could also draw away safety help and open things up for a Temple running game that finished ninth out of 11 American Athletic Conference teams in rushing offense at just 107.8 yards per game.
And at 6 feet, 3 inches tall, Anderson is also a legitimate red-zone threat who could help out fellow wide receiver Romond Deloatch in that department. In his last game in a Temple uniform back on Nov. 30, 2013, a 41-21 Owls win over Memphis, Anderson caught seven passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns, two of which were red-zone scoring catches from Walker of 1 and 11 yards.
Follow OwlScoop.com on Twitter @OwlScoop_com for more on this developing story, as well as updates on the Temple football team as preseason camp approaches.