Eight Temple football players, coach Geoff Collins, and other university staff returned Sunday from a nine-day trip to Japan, and what they realized the most is that the big guys got the best treatment.
The trip included three coaching clinics that Collins directed and three camps run by the players.
"The best dynamic of the week is that if you were above 250 pounds in our group, you were treated like a rock star," Collins said in a news conference Monday.
Collins said everywhere the linemen went, the Japanese wanted their picture taken with them.
The four linemen on the trip were defensive tackles Michael Dogbe (6-3, 280) and Dan Archibong (6-6, 285), offensive tackle Jaelin Robinson (6-6, 325), and center Matt Hennessy (6-4, 295).
"In our country, everybody wants to know about the quarterbacks, wide receivers, and running backs, and nobody cares about the offensive line," Robinson said. "Over there, it was completely the opposite."
At the final camp run by the players, people were taking pictures of the linemen when Robinson received an unexpected request. "One guy just jumped in my arms and posed for a picture with me," he said.
Dogbe estimated that he had his picture taken 1,000 times during the trip. "I had people hugging me and feeling my biceps," Dogbe, said laughing. "They were excited to see us and made us feel comfortable there."
The other four Temple players on the trip were quarterback Frank Nutile, receiver Isaiah Wright, linebacker Shaun Bradley, and cornerback Linwood Crump.
The smaller guys also had their admirers.
"They saw me run and asked how fast I was and I said 4.4, 4.3 [in the 40-yard dash] and they were in awe," Crump said. "They were fascinated because they hadn't seen people that big and fast."
The itinerary included visiting the U.S. embassy and seeing a Tokyo Giants baseball game, a sumo wrestling tournament, and several temples and shrines.
"It is such a respectful culture and the people are very polite," Nutile said. "The people were so clean and there was no litter anywhere."
The eight players will be earning three college credits for a summer course titled "Sport, Culture and Tourism in Japan," Never was taking a college course so much fun.
"I loved interacting with different kids and seeing their passion for the game and how excited they were to see us," Dogbe said. "They made us feel like celebrities."
Collins said that running back David Hood would not return for his redshirt senior season because of undisclosed injuries. A product of South Jersey's Absegami High, Hood led Temple in rushing last season with 638 yards. He scored five touchdowns.
"He has had a series of injuries and the doctor said it is probably best you don't play anymore," Collins said. "… The best thing is that he has his degree and has an aspiring music career [as a rapper] where he will be a success."