Photos: Zamani Feelings
By: Marc Narducci
PHILADELPHIA – Temple University running back Edward Saydee learned football the hard way. Maybe at the time he didn’t understand that taking a few hits in his backyard while playing football would be the best thing for his development.
He sure realizes it now.
Administering most of those early football lessons was Eugene Saydee, his older brother, who is 30.
Edward Saydee was born in Liberia, but moved to Philadelphia when he was four.
By the time he was eight-years-old, he was beginning to play football.
And even in those early years, he attended the school of hard knocks, learning lessons on an almost daily basis from his older brother.
“He’s the one who got me tough throughout the hard times,” Saydee said in a recent interview after practice.
His brother remains a big part of his development.
“He is like my best friend, I call him, I talk to him every day,” Saydee said.
Maybe that explains the battering ram style in which the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Saydee plays.
Make no mistake. Saydee’s strength is his strength. He can run by defenders, but running over them is a path he often chooses.
That style was ingrained in those backyard games.
Now, both Saydee and Temple are looking to take that next step.
Temple went 3-9 last year in its first season under coach Stan Drayton. Even though that matched the team’s record in 2021, Temple was a much more competitive team. For instance, in 2021, the Owls lost 61-14 to Rutgers and last year, the score was 16-14. The program appears headed in the right direction.
The same can be said for Saydee.
A standout at Penn Charter, Saydee has shown steady progression in his four seasons at Temple. He had just two carries his first year, which turned out to be a redshirt season. Saydee then added 19 carries his second year in 2020, the COVID-shortened season.
In 2021 he rushed for 321 yards (3.7 average) and three touchdowns. Then last year, he almost doubled that output with 639 yards rushing (4.3 avg.) and six touchdowns.
Temple Running Back Edward Saydee - PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
Since he redshirted one year and the NCAA didn’t count the COVID season on a player’s eligibility, Saydee actually has two years of eligibility remaining.
“Edward still has a very high ceiling at running back,” said Drayton, whose team opens its season Sept. 2 at Lincoln Financial Field against Akron. “I am looking for him to play on contact with balance, and I am expecting him to get a lot of tough yards on his own.”
Drayton knows the running back position well. He has coached some of the greats as a former running backs coach for the likes of Brian Westbrook at Villanova and recent NFL first-round draft choice Bijan Robinson at Texas.
“The responsibility of a running back when we call run plays is to keep us on schedule and I think Edward has shown signs of being able to do that on a consistent basis as of late,” Drayton said.
Drayton also likes Saydee’s attitude.
“He has a great mindset every day, he works his butt off, he doesn’t take a day for granted which I think is a little different from last year,” Drayton said. “I think there were times where Edward got complacent when things were going well for him, and I don’t think that is the case anymore. He’s never satisfied, which you can absolutely tell when he is running the football.”
Temple Running Back Ed Saydee and Teammates Return to the Linc on September 2 vs. Akron. PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
Despite having two seasons of eligibility, Saydee, 23, said he would love to enjoy a signature season and get on the radar of NFL scouts.
“My goal is to go to the league,” he said, referring to the NFL. “I’m trying to make this my last year and go all out; do the best I can.”
While he aspires to play at the next level, Saydee will have other options. He has earned his undergraduate degree in advertising.
“I am so grateful that I got to earn my degree debt-free and when football is finally over, I can use my degree for something good,” Saydee said.
Saydee says Temple has been good for him. Even in his first two years when he saw minimal playing time, he kept believing in himself.
“I am the type of person who always has a chip on his shoulder, and I always knew there would be better days,” he said.
Consequently, as he played more the past two years, his confidence has grown.
If ever Saydee needs a resume tape, he can always show people last year’s 54-28 win at Lincoln Financial Field against South Florida on Nov. 5. In that game, Saydee rushed for 265 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries. He also caught four passes for 69 yards. His 334 all-purpose yards was fourth most by a Temple player in the past 50 years.
“I think I have watched a tape of that game four or five times now,” he said smiling. “It was a good feeling and I feel like the whole offense played well that day.”
Temple University Edward Saydee Hungry for Yardage. PSD Photo by Zamani Feelings
Not only is Saydee glad that he chose Temple, but he is equally ecstatic about his days at Penn Charter. As a senior at Penn Charter he rushed for 1,446 yards and 25 touchdowns.
“Those were great days, I miss those guys, I miss my coaches,” he said. “They always put me in a good spot.”
And he said it was more than just football that made his experience so worthwhile at Penn Charter.
“I feel Penn Charter got me ready for college,” he said. “When I was in high school, I had a lot of support with people helping me with things that I brought to college and Penn Charter helped make that a smooth transition and I am so grateful for the chance to go there.”
He says he is grateful to so many people, from family members, friends, teachers in high school and college. Yet, at the top of his list will be his brother Eugene.
It was Eugene who instilled the toughness in his younger brother and also helped develop his passion for the game.
It’s easy to see why the brothers are in daily contact. The lessons learned from his big brother have helped get Saydee to this point, with the desire to keep elevating further and further.