"Leave no doubt." These three words explain this year's football season here at Temple University. This motto comes just two seasons after the Owls ended their season with a losing record and the future of the football program was questioned. Last year was an improvement, with a 6-6 record and bowl eligibility. Now, it is more than halfway through the season and the Owls are ranked 22nd in the nation. I sat down with Dion Dawkins, offensive lineman for the Owls, to discuss the recent success of the team and what he sees for the future.
Dawkins has been a key player for the team since he joined the Owls in 2013. He is a native of Rahway, New Jersey, and felt as if Temple's football program chose him instead of him making the decision himself. In his first season, the team went 2-10, but the coaches still had faith in each and every player. "Before, the coaches would always tell us we were good, but we didn't believe it since we were losing games. Now, we just listen to the coaches and see what happens and that's been working for us."
For him, this season has been more about team chemistry than any of the accolades and praise. "Beating Penn State was a great start to the season, great historical win for Temple, but we treated that game like any other game," said Dawkins about the 27-10 defeat of state school-rival Penn State. Even when College GameDay came to Philadelphia for the Temple and Notre Dame football game, Dawkins said they were not phased. "If we would have let that get to our heads, we would've gotten blown out by Notre Dame," he said. Instead, Temple lost by a slim margin of 24-20. If this was the Owls team from any previous year, the outcome may not have been the same.
Off of the football field, the Temple Owls are active within the Philadelphia community as a whole. Most of their community service caters to children. This includes participating in Special Olympics events and attending Pop Warner football games. "Us winning proves to the people here that we have a good program. We give them hope," said Dawkins about the team's impact on the rest of the city. He truly believes that his team represents the "toughness" of Philadelphia and the people that live here.
What's next for Temple football? According to Dawkins, "I hope we end with [an American Athletic Conference] championship. That will help with recruiting to bring in even more guys to help us win for years to come."
As a Temple student myself, I can vouch for the drastic change in school spirit in the past year alone. There have been two sell-out crowds at Lincoln Financial Field thus far and there are still more home games to be played. I see nothing but positive things ahead for the Temple football team and, in the words of the Twitter world and Dawkins himself, "Leave no doubt."