When Adam DiMichele first arrived at Temple in 2006, he told the coaches he was looking for a challenge.
Everything he did at Sto-Rox High School, he did well. He was an all-state baseball, basketball and football player, with the last of the three landing him a Penn State scholarship offer. Along the way, he broke western Pennsylvania high school passing records that belonged to people like Joe Montana, Joe Namath and Dan Marino.
It wasn't necessarily that it all came easily, but he never really had to get used to losing or being disappointed.
And even when DiMichele decided to forego playing at Penn State and give baseball a try at a junior college before turning to college football again, he managed to get himself drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays.
So when he got to Temple, he was looking for a challenge - and he certainly got one.
And this time, nothing came easy.
DiMichele's Owls were part of a group that gradually peeled away a longstanding culture of losing. Although it never got to a bowl game during his tenure, Temple scratched its way from one to four to five wins in DiMichele's three seasons, which included a season-ending knee injury in 2007 but also saw him pass for 5,024 yards and 45 touchdowns during his career.
The 6-foot-1 DiMichele went undrafted in 2009 but went to an NFL training camp with the Eagles and even threw a touchdown pass in a preseason game. From there, he faced more challenges - two stints in the Canadian Football League and two more with Arena League teams, most recently with the Philadelphia Soul, and wondered when the time would come when he would finally play his last football game.
As that day grew closer, he often recalled a conversation he had with his former position coach and offensive coordinator, Matt Rhule.
"He said, 'When I get my first head coaching job, you're coming to coach with me,'" DiMichele said.
So when Rhule returned to Temple to become its head coach prior to the 2013 season, he didn't forget about DiMichele. He brought him on board as a graduate assistant coach. DiMichele, by his own admission, said he figured he would use that opportunity to determine if he was really serious about coaching, and it didn't take him long to realize he was.
And when former assistant coach Terry Smith left Temple last month to join the staff at Penn State, Rhule kept that promise to DiMichele but this time gave him a promotion.
On Thursday morning, he named his former quarterback his new wide receivers coach.
"I'm ecstatic," DiMichele said in an interview with OwlScoop.com Thursday. "I really believe that at the end of the day, this is where I belong. I don't know if it's that God meant for me to be here or that all the stars and planets aligned for me to be here at this time, but I really do believe that this is where I should be in helping mentor these young players who are going through the same things that I just went through from 2006 to 2009.
"For me, personally, this is a dream come true - becoming a position coach at my alma mater."
DiMichele will be facing yet again another challenge as a first-year coach in taking on a promising group of wideouts but one that just lost its most productive player in Robby Anderson, who is no longer with the program after a breakout sophomore season. But DiMichele said he's seen talented players come and go before and believes he and his players will meet that challenge like he himself has done in the past.
In addition to coaching, DiMichele will be responsible for recruiting an area where he's still well-known - in Pittsburgh and the 412 area code, one that typically produces some of the better high school football talent in the country. Although he couldn't hit the road like other full-time coaches could to recruit this past season, DiMichele was still a big reason why Temple landed Sto Rox quarterback Lenny Williams, the new Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League all-time leading passer.
In addition to Williams, Temple also landed signatures from a trio of talented players from Gateway High School in Anthony Davis, Delvon Randall and Brenon Thrift, and DiMichele believes there's more recruiting success to be had for the Owls in an area that has typically been dominated by programs like Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State and West Virginia.
"It's an amazing opportunity," DiMichele said. "You've seen what Coach Smith did there and I'm lucky to do the same sort of thing - build relationships and let them know that I'm a truth teller and that I'm going to be honest with their kids and honest with their coaches. You have people that tell lies or don't treat the players the right way, but that's not how I'm going to be.
"I'm anxious to get back out in the back yard and go through the Aliquippas of the world and back to Gateway and Beaver Falls. Doesn't matter where they're at, but let them know that we have close to eight or nine guys from the Pittsburgh area and western PA that are on the team now that are trying to build that brand. … I'm looking to continue to brand Temple on the other side of the state in my own back yard."
Listen to OwlScoop.com's entire interview with DiMichele here as he talks about his coaching philosophies, his relationship with incoming freshman Lenny Williams and much more.