With the season opener in just three days, it’s time to finish off the Rhode Island football position previews. And like most other areas of the URI roster, the Rhody secondary has a nice mix of veterans and newbies… experience and youth… and whatever other cliché fits the bill. Here’s a closer look at the defensive backfield.
First up, the cornerbacks. With the graduation of both Mackenzie Elliott and Jamaal Bess, the Rams will have two new faces at CB this season. One of them will likely be JuCo transfer Dunston Payne. The 6’0″, 183-pound junior comes to Kingston via Monroe College, where he put up some solid numbers (10 pass deflections, one INT, a sack, and a forced fumble last year).
Senior Rodney Chance will likely occupy the other cornerback spot. He played in eight games as a reserve last season, racking up 15 tackles, three pass deflections, and a forced fumble. Chance has 22 career games under his belt with the Rams, but he’s still looking for his first start.
By contrast, not much is changing at the safety spots for Rhody. Defensive fixture Tim Wienclaw is back, and the junior is poised for another solid season. Wienclaw has started every possible game in his URI career, and his numbers last season were pretty special. The New York native racked up 73 tackles, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, and a sack. Oh, and he also won CAA Defensive Player of the Week following URI’s big win over Richmond. So yeah… the Rams are in good shape with Wienclaw roaming the defensive backfield.
Senior Donovan Walker, another talented and experienced player, will occupy the other safety spot. Walker’s sophomore season was cut short due to injury, but he bounced back last year, playing in all 12 games, including four starts. The 5’10”, 195-pounder tallied 45 tackles in 2013, and he’s looking to improve on those numbers as a full-time starter.
Overall, the URI secondary looks to be in good shape. Let us know your thoughts on the defensive backs in the comments!