Temple Football: Rock Ya-Sin has played his way into the first round

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

After three years at Presbyterian College, Rock Ya-Sin turned a single year with the Temple Owls into a potential first-round grade in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Geoff Collins may have only spent two-years with Temple, but Georgia State‘s new head coach certainly made an impact on the Owls’ defense.

Bringing an SEC mentality to the City of Brotherly Love, Collins crafted an identity, energy, and swagger to the Owls that many feared would be lost once Matt Rhule left for Baylor University. And the crown jewel of his abbreviated tenure with Temple: Rock Ya-Sin.

Though Ya-Sin was an absolutely vital cog in the Owls’ secondary last season, he almost didn’t join the team at all.

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After failing to garner much interest coming out of high school, Ya-Sin began his college career at FCS school Presbyterian College, a small Presbyterian school in South Carolina. Over his first three years with the Blue Hose (this is their mascot), Ya-Sin recorded 95 tackles, 24 pass breakups, and five interceptions in 32 games of action.

These numbers alone probably would have still got Ya-Sin drafted, but a crazy act of circumstance created an opportunity at Temple, an opportunity he ran with.

After playing in the Big South Conference for the first three years of Ya-Sin’s career, Presbyterian College opted to drop down to Division II in football; a tough pill to swallow for a senior cornerback with NFL aspirations.

Though he was offered a chance to retain a scholarship and stick with the team in 2018, Ya-Sin opted to transfer to an FBS school to test his mettle against the best of the best that college football had to offer.

This decision paid major dividends for all parties involved.

In 12 games of action with the Owls in 2018, Ya-Sin transformed from an afterthought transfer from an FCS college to a legitimate force to be reckoned with on the outside, and consistently found ways to dominate on the outside.

Though he only hauled in two interceptions, one of which was featured on Sportscenter’s top plays, Ya-Sin broke up 12(!) passes in his lone season in North Philly, tied for the most in the AAC.

But his ball skills, while impressive, are not all that scouts are salivating over when watching Ya-Sin’s tape; far from it in fact.

Ya-Sin is a big, physical cornerback who bodies opposing receivers with his 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame. With solid speed, good instincts, and a one-on-one mentality, Ya-Sin has the prototypical dimensions of a man-press cornerback with the production to match.

Those players are very hard to find in the draft, making Ya-Sin an incredible sought after commodity.

He may be a bit of a one-year wonder at the FBS-level, but Ya-Sin’s dominant performances in a pro-style man press scheme, when combined with his very impressive ball skills, are incredibly tantalizing at the professional level, and could lead to the first Temple Owl selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since Haason Reddick earned the honor in 2017.

He was called “(As) elite of a defensive back as I have coached in the last seven years” by Collins in a conversation with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Marc Narducci, which is pretty high praise when you consider he also coached Johnthan Banks, the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner.

Banks was selected 43rd overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, and if Ya-Sin can put in a flashy performance in the 2019 NFL Draft Combine, his ultimate draft grade could rise even higher.

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So, after a down year in 2018, it looks like Rock Ya-Sin will return the Temple Owls to the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. What a difference a year can make.