When the Baltimore Ravens drafted Temple running back Bernard Pierce with their third round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, there might have been some surprise that they drafted a running back, but no one flinched or noticed anything about the school he came from.
When the draft ended, the flurry of activity began to sign those undrafted rookies to compete in mini-camps to ultimately fill out the team's roster. When the Ravens held their initial Rookie Camp this weekend, there were two more players from Temple on the field with Pierce. Quarterback Chester Stewart and TE Matt Balasavage joined him along with the rest of the rookies.
So what is it that has attracted the Ravens to the Owls, given that despite finishing the 2011 season with a 9-4 record, including a 37-15 victory over Wyoming in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, certainly wasn't what one would consider a football powerhouse?
Let's take a look at the Temple Owls offensive production last year, as all three new Ravens are from that side of the ball. We all know a lot more about Bernard Pierce since his name was called in the draft last month. Pierce is a bruising runner, gaining almost 1,500 yards and scoring an astounding 27 TD's. He provided close to a third of the entire Owls offense and was a one-man wrecking crew in their 38-7 blowout over the Maryland Terrapins.
Quarterback Chester Stewart only threw the ball 83 times for 743 yards but completed 63% of them. Stewart was one of three Owls QB's who threw at least 50 passes, although Chester threw at least 20 more times than either of the other two. Stewart's best game, coincidentally, was at the Terps, where he went a perfect 9-9 for 140 yards and added nine more rushes for 43 additional yards. Here's his Maryland post-game Press Conference:
Tight end Matt Balasavage must have been singed by the Ravens as a pure run-blocker, as his receiving stats are nothing to be impressed with. In 2011, Balasavage only caught one single pass for eight yards. In his Temple career, he caught a grand total of six passes and scored one TD in his first year, none since. At 6'4" and 256 pounds, he seems like a guy who if he makes the team, which appears to be a huge longshot, would be for his blocking skills and value on Special Teams.
At this point, while Pierce appears to be a lock to make the team, both Stewart and Balasalvage seem to be nothing more than extra bodies in camp to take reps off of the guys well ahead of them on the depth chart. However, having the trio together on the Ravens must give them a bit of familiarity in what can be a very overwhelming and lonely transition from the collegiate to the pro level.