COLUMBIA — When running back Tony Temple came to Missouri in 2004, he was one of the most hyped recruits in the country. Four years later, injuries and legal trouble have overshadowed his stellar play on the field. Now a senior, Temple will likely play his final game at Faurot Field on Saturday.
Q: You were ranked the No. 8 running back prospect in the country by rivals.com after your senior year at Rockhurst High. How hard was it trying to live up to those high expectations?
A: It was just hard to adjust to knowing how good you were and (trying) to be able to show that. That was probably the hardest thing. And then just waiting for the opportunity to show what you can do.
Q: An ankle injury ended your season in the first game of your career as a true freshman against Nebraska. How disappointing was it to lose your eligibility after only six carries?
A: That was very hard because you work hard and you want to go out there and do what you know you can do, and you don’t get an opportunity to do that. That was just very disappointing.
Q: You were charged with third-degree assault in June of 2006 and pled guilty to disturbing the peace the following December. What did you learn from that experience?
A: Basically you just can’t let emotion get to you. You got to think about the bigger picture. A lot of people are going to try to push you to do things, and you just got to have self-control at all times no matter what the situation is.
Q: You had a breakout game a few weeks later in the Sun Bowl, rushing for 194 yards and two touchdowns. How special was that?
A: It meant a lot. Just finally getting an opportunity to show off some things I knew I could always do. It was just a great way to end the year going into my senior season. I just put a lot of things together, learned a lot, and it was a great game.
Q: Is it true that you lost to your younger brother Drew, a senior running back at Rockhurst, in a sprint and weight lifting competition this past summer?
A: Yea, but what people fail to believe about that story is that it was just after (MU) workouts and it was on a Friday, and I had just squatted about 650-670 (pounds), so running a 40(-yard dash) was really hard. So yea, he had a little bit of an edge there. But he probably doesn’t mention that.
Q: How great is it to be a part of such a successful team your senior year?
A: It feels good. A lot of people will tell you how we (the seniors) came here when no one wanted to go to Mizzou. No one wanted to come here, and so we feel like we were a big part of building that (the program), changing the attitudes around and working hard. I think it’s starting to pay off.
Q: As you said, no one wanted to come here. So what made you choose to come to MU over schools like Michigan, Notre Dame and USC?
A: Just having faith and seeing how much the coaches care about you. If your coaches care about you, it trickles down to the players and having that family atmosphere. I noticed that as soon as I got here and I wanted to be a part of it. I made the right choice.
Q: How sweet would it be to cap your career with a Big 12 Championship?
A: It’d be amazing. Obviously that’s our goal, but we know that we got three beasts in front of us, and we’ve got to take care of them first. We do that, the sky’s the limit.
Q: There’s a chance this might not be your final game at Faurot Field after all. Are you appealing to the NCAA to gain another year of eligibility after your injury in 2004?
A: It’s definitely in the process, so I just have to wait and see what happens. Hopefully everything will work out.