So that went pretty well, huh? Jim Fleming and the Rhode Island Rams football team put together an outstanding recruiting class as part of National Signing Day today, and things are looking up for Rhody right now. Of course it’s easy to get excited about players you’ve only seen on video, but the experience of the new coaching staff indicates they know what their doing. Let’s take a look at some of the new Rams:
QB – Mack Lowrie
This one is big. URI lost Bob Bentsen to graduation, but Rhody has honestly been struggling at the signal caller position for some time. Bentsen was serviceable, but a lot of the records he set were due to the fact that he played in a lot of games. The Rams have both Kolt Peavey and Luke Casey in tow, so they have additional options besides Lowrie. But a BCS transfer from an ACC school is no joke. If Lowrie can do it, he could definitely be starting right away.
RB – Harold Cooper, Markey Clarke
It goes without saying that Fleming and Co. needed to address most areas of the football team, but running back was another big one. Following the injury to Justin Semmes last season, the Rams really struggled out of the backfield. Then-freshman Eerin Young looked to be the only bright spot as both Robby Delgado and Jordan Sebastian struggled. URI now has some depth at the position thanks to two big additions. Judging by their track records, either of these guys could be a force immediately.
WR – Ezra Holmes
The receiver situation was a little difficult to gauge in 2013, simply because Bentsen wasn’t much of a downfield passer. He liked to dink and dunk his way, and the Rams didn’t always throw in situations that would normally warrant a pass. No more. Robbie Jackson, Jawaun Wynn, Andrew Matos, and Ross Kim are still in the fold, and now Holmes is added to the mix. Our first reaction was that URI could probably use another wide-out or two, but let’s see how Lowrie (or whoever the starting QB is) performs before we made any judgements.
TE – Grant Lewis
With Josh Gross leaving the team, Rhody is now pretty thin at tight end. They certainly have TEs on the roster, but none have made much more than an appearance in a collegiate game. Lewis is definitely a welcome addition, but is he ready to make an immediate impact? It’s too early to tell, but Rhode Island may see their fair share of struggles at the tight end position this season.
OL – Dino Boyd
If you were to pick the area of “least need”, it would be on the offensive line. Obviously depth issues can always come into play if there are injuries, but Rhody is pretty set in the trenches. Tyler Catalina and Andrew Kestenbaum are both returning, and the Rams seem to have a good amount of players who can step in and make an impact. Let’s hope they do.
DL – Derek Allen, Tyrone Barge, Jose Duncan, Mike LeBlanc, Marcus Pantoja, Monte Sinisi
Think Jim Fleming is concerned with URI’s defense? The new head coach is making it his mission to beef up the front seven, and it starts here. Rhody welcomes six new defensive linemen to Kingston, and let’s hope a least a handful of them can make their presence felt immediately. The Rams need all the help they can get on D.
LB – T.J. Anderson, Kingsley Ayeni, Emmanuel Jalbert
The defensive transformation continues at linebacker, with three new players entering the fold. Andrew Bose is arguably URI’s best returning defender, so he’ll most likely occupy one of the LB spots. The rest, at this point, seem to be up for grabs.
CB – Isaiah Hill, Dunston Payne, Russell Walton
Cornerback could be another area of concern for Rhode Island this season, although Donovan Walker is returning. Of the three signees, Watson looks to be the favorite to earn a starting spot sooner rather than later. Certainly a lot of questions about the CB slot will be answered as we approach the start of the season.
S – Shawn Antoine
Tim Wienclaw is still in the fold in the URI backfield, so the secondary at least has an anchor. But Antoine looks to be a tough, hard-hitting defender, so here’s hoping that he can make strides in his freshman year and become an impact player for the Rams.
Thoughts on the 2014 recruiting class? Let us know in the comments!