Alan Dell

Temple likes what it sees in Desmond Blue

Brett Timmons knows Desmond Blue’s frustration. He went through the same thing 16 years ago when he was a linebacker for Southeast.

Timmons was called a “tweener” -- not big enough to play linebacker in college and perhaps not quick enough for safety.

He proved them all wrong.

It’s why he didn’t feel bad losing to the Manatee County All-Stars in Friday night’s PAL Bowl.

Blue played a big role in the victory, and Timmons, who coached the Sarasota All-Stars, felt like he was looking at himself in the mirror.

Blue was at safety the whole game, had four tackles, deflected a couple passes and blocked a field goal.

Can’t play safety in college?

Southeast coach Paul Maechtle winces when hears that talk. Timmons shakes his head.

Blue is not a “tweener.” He is a dominator.

The best part is that the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder now has some good film of himself at safety to show college scouts who missed the boat on him because he played linebacker all season.

Some of the colleges who passed on Blue will have mud all on their faces in a few years; try Bethune Cookman and Florida A&M. Are you kidding?

But the one guy who might be a genius in all of this is Temple’s new head coach, Steve Addazio. He was in town last week and invited Blue up to Philadelphia for an official visit.

Addazio also has something to prove. Florida’s offensive coordinator this past season, he was the scapegoat for everything that went wrong when the Gators had the ball.

Blue can give him credibility, and Lord knows he could use some after being the Swamp’s most popular piñata last season.

Timmons believes it doesn’t matter whether Blue plays safety or linebacker. You don’t judge a book by its cover, you judge it by what’s inside.

When Timmons got to Tulane on the first day of contact drills, he knocked a 300-pound-plus offensive lineman on his rear. They made him a linebacker after that play, and he turned into an All-Conference centerpiece of Tulane’s undefeated team in 1998.

“A lot of schools go after size, and if they see a 5-10, 190-pound kid, they don’t feel they can do much with him if his main position doesn’t work out,” Timmons said. “If I was recruiting Blue, I would take him hands down. Look at his productivity. He makes plays when he is on the field.”

Timmons was 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds his senior year at Southeast in 1994. He graduated Tulane at 220. Blue has room to add 20 or more pounds and already has the speed to play safety, plus he and Addazio seem like the perfect fit.

Blue had 176 tackles, including 87 solos, last season against some extremely tough competition. He can dunk a basketball and had a breakaway speed when he was a running back his first two years.

Can’t play safety? What happened to coaches who could project the future? Are they all out of work?

“Coach Addazio told me that he is very demanding and wants players who have heart and get the job done,” Blue said. “I liked that, it reminds me of me and our defensive coordinator at Southeast (Brian McKnight). They want me to play safety up there, and that is fine with me.”

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Addazio’s presence at Temple and Al Golden at Miami could turn into a nice little bonanza for Manatee County players who are considered FBS-caliber players.

Addazio wants Southeast running back Jared Williams to come up to the City of Brotherly Love and has also invited Manatee High’s Quinton and Chris Pompey.

Miami extended verbal offers to the Pompeys earlier last week.

Chris Pompey was considered a question mark at defensive end because of his size, but he could move to linebacker in college, and his MVP performance in the PAL Bowl answered a lot of questions.

Penn State has officially offered Quinton Pompey, and USF has thrown its hat in the ring for both.

The Bulls could be the ultimate winner because the Pompeys want to play at the same school and desire to stay close to home. It might depend on how much of that Miami mystique is left and whether Quinton can clear academic hurdles before National Signing Day on Feb. 2.

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For the second straight year, the PAL Bowl was marred by multiple ejections of players for fighting. It puts the event in a Catch 22.

You like the enthusiasm and passion the kids are showing in an all-star game they might otherwise not take seriously. On the other hand, a better brand of sportsmanship needs to be expressed.

Timmons, who played in one of the first Pal Bowls in the early 1990s, is taking the psychological approach.

“I think some of the kids realize it’s the end of their careers and some are not getting recruited,” Timmons said. “Their emotions get the best of them, and as each quarter goes by it cements the idea that I might never play again. I don’t know if you can stop it (the fights).

“These kids grew up with rivalries and are fighting for county bragging rights. As long as the scoreboard is on, emotions are sometimes going to get the best of them. It’s our job as coaches to control that.”