PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Temple true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker is going to get a chance to show Rutgers what it missed.
Walker will return to New Jersey when the Owls (1-7, 0-4 American Athletic Conference) face Rutgers (4-3, 1-2) on Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium.
After starring at Elizabeth High School, Walker was offered a scholarship, but not at quarterback. He looked elsewhere and found Temple and new coach Matt Rhule.
"It was a big disappointment," Walker said. "It was a school in New Jersey and I am from New Jersey. But it happened for a reason. They didn't want me as a quarterback and that's why I ended up here. Not really, but I'm here now."
The Owls couldn't be happier.
Walker took over as their starting quarterback three games ago and he had his best game last weekend in a 59-49 loss to SMU. He hit his first 16 passes and finished 26 of 37 for 293 and four touchdowns, the most by a Temple quarterback in a game since 2008.
"We should have won that game," said Walker, who has thrown for 891 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. "We know we should have won that game, but now we have Rutgers."
Walker is also a running threat. He carried 14 times for 92 yards against SMU.
"We know a lot about him being from Elizabeth High School," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. "He can throw it and he can run it. I think they've done a nice job utilizing both with him in their system. I think what that does is it forces you to play assignment football. The run pass options are becoming more and more common in college football offenses and just about every team has some element of it that they utilize now."
Ironically, Rutgers didn't think it needed another quarterback when it recruited Walker last year with now junior Gary Nova running the show. However, the former Don Bosco Prep product has struggled during the Scarlet Knights' two-game losing streak, throwing seven interceptions, including three against Houston in a 49-14 loss.
Flood debated starting senior Chas Dodd this week, but he is sticking with Nova, although he is bound to be on a short leash.
Nova, who struggled at the end of last season, has thrown for 1,511 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Dodd, who was the starter two seasons ago, has attempted only 25 passes this season with one interception.