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Preseason camp notebook: Joe-Kamara and Robertson embrace bigger roles

OwlScoop.com is providing a story after every preseason camp press conference with updates from the team’s players and coaches to prepare fans for the start of Temple’s season on Sept. 2 when the Owls travel to Rutgers.

On Wednesday night, defensive tackle Kevin Robertson and BUBO Thomas Joe-Kamara spoke to the media about their potential roles in Temple’s defense.

Joe-Kamara played in his first game against Tulane last season and is competing for the starting BUBO position, against the likes of West Virginia transfer Kwantel Raines and freshmen Muheem McCargo and DJ Woodbury.

Despite the heavy competition for playing time, Joe-Kamara feels like he’s made a lot of progress learning the BUBO position and has gotten his body into the correct shape this fall.

“When I first moved to the BUBO spot, I wasn’t truly familiar with the territory,” Joe-Kamara said. “In high school, I came from 15 yards back, coming downhill. Now, I’m five yards, guarding slots every other play, taking people on in the box. This year, having a spring ball and a fall camp, I’m a lot more familiar with the scheme.”

While Joe-Kamara is still in the mix at BUBO, he’s definitely going to see reps on special teams against stalwart Rutgers returners Aron Cruickshank and Joshua Youngblood, the latter of whom at one point was verbally committed to Temple as part of the same recruiting class as Joe-Kamara.

Special teams is something Joe-Kamara takes just as seriously as playing defense thanks to his position coach, Brett Diersen, also being the team’s special teams coordinator.

“I don’t think it is going to be a challenge for us at all if we fall back on our training, if we continue to play the way we’ve been practicing because we’ve been practicing pretty hard,” Joe-Kamara said about defending Rutgers’ special teams. “Our kickoff team is full of demons, as far as I see. It doesn’t matter if it is Rutgers or the No. 1 team in the country, I feel like we can cover anybody.”

As for Robertson, he has an opportunity to earn a starting defensive tackle spot this fall after playing in six of the team’s seven games last season. In those games, Robertson recorded just two tackles, but his role was to effectively occupy blockers with his size rather than chase production.

Robertson is one of the few upperclassmen competing for interior defensive line reps during fall camp, which has forced him to adapt to more of a leadership role than in the past.

“It feels good,” Robertson said. “It is definitely a new position for me, a new role, but I like it. I’m excited about it and the guys we got coming back this season. It took a little bit getting used to, but I would definitely say, it’s an exciting new role to step into.”

Although Robertson isn’t known as a pass rusher, he feels like he’s improved greatly in that area this offseason. Temple lost a lot of talent on the defensive line so any pressure Robertson can put on the quarterback during might give him an edge in the competition for playing time.