National Signing Day 2015 should forever be renamed to “The Year of the Quarterback” for the Rhode Island Rams.
Jim Fleming and URI added 20 new players yesterday, and quarterbacks accounted for… well, a quarter of them. Rhody also bolstered their linebacking corps, their wide receiver unit, and their kicking game. If that sounds like a successful recruiting cycle, it should. Fleming said yesterday that Rhode Island has “…had 32 kids on campus since the start of December. Out of those 32 kids we’ve had 20 commits.” That’s a pretty crazy ratio. Here’s a more detailed breakdown.
QB – (5): Isaiah DeSilva, Brian Dolan, Wesley McKoy, Paul Mroz, Jordan Vazzano
Here’s the coup. Rhode Island brought five quarterbacks aboard yesterday as they look to address a serious deficiency from a year ago. But just because these five guys are new doesn’t mean they’re inexperienced. In fact, only two of the five (DeSilva and McKoy) will be true freshman. The other three have either spent time at prep school or junior college.
For what it’s worth, Mack Lowrie, James Caparell, and Kolt Peavey are all still listed on URI’s official roster. So… eight quarterbacks? No. Coach Fleming said yesterday that “…they won’t all play quarterback.”, so we could be looking at a “competition to get into the competition” deal.
RB – (0)
Despite the loss of senior running back Lyle McCombs, the Rams decided to stand pat with what they have at running back for the time being. Which means the spotlight will likely be on sophomore Harold Cooper this season. He ranked second on the team with 417 yards rushing last season. Rhody also has sophomore Markey Clarke and seniors Robby Delgado and Jordan Sebastian.
WR – (3): Justin Caines, Khayri Denny, D.J. Stewart
Rhode Island lost their top wide receiver last year (in terms of yards) in Robbie Jackson, so they’ll be looking to replace his production. URI does still have Phadrae White – last year’s leader in receptions – as well as their #3 guy Ross Kim. Rhody also lost Jawaun Wynn, but he had one more catch last season than you did. So can one of these three new targets replace Jackson? Perhaps. They best candidate of the three is probably Stewart, who jumped from UMass and into Kingston at the last minute.
TE – (0)
Coming into last season, the tight end corps looked like a concern for Rhody. But when freshman TE Charlie McKeeman finished the year with as many touchdown catches as all URI wide receivers combined, the Rams probably figured they were all set. Rhode Island has some depth at the spot, too: backup tight end Ezra Holmes also tallied a TD last season.
OL – (2): Alex Ganter, Dwayne Scott
The Rams will be returning 80 percent of their O-line in 2015, with graduated senior Andrew Kestenbaum the lone missing piece. He won’t be easy to replace, but Rhody has depth in that area, and Ganter and Scott will add to it. An open competition to fill Kestenbaum’s spot should begin in spring camp.
DL – (1): Nate Pauls
D-line is another area where the Rams are stacked, although they did lose both Mike Rinaldi and Blake Jones to graduation. Still, Jose Duncan, Joe Simon, Marcus Pantoja, Anthony St. Laurent, and a handful of others are all returning to a crew that improved drastically as the season went on last year. Pauls will be joining an experienced group, and may not see playing time right away.
LB – (4): Lorenzo Bryant, Justin Hogan, Perry Schrader, Tez Wilson
What do you do when you lose Andrew Bose? You bring in a boat-load of guys to compete for his spot. Both Adam Parker and Connor Caponegro are returning, and any one of these four guys could join them in the backfield. Rhode Island also has Romeo Masuku and T.J. Anderson to compete for that spot.
CB – (2): Ahkema Evans, Power Kanga
Rhody is returning both of their starting cornerbacks in Myles Holmes and Abdul Ibrahim, so there may not be an opportunity for Evans or Kanga to start right away. But they’ll still have a shot to contribute. Kanga seems like a prototypical special teams guy, while Evans seems likely to be a starter before his career at URI is over. It just might not come this year.
S – (1): Nasir Jones
Andrew Bose was clearly the biggest loss on the URI defense, but don’t underestimate the absence of Donovan Walker this season. Rhody will return Tim Wienclaw, but they’ll need another starter alongside him. The top candidate is probably sophomore Shawn Antoine II, but Jones could compete for the job in camp.
K/P – (2): Justin Rohrwasser, Leo Vagias
Last but not least, the kicking game. And with the struggles from both Connor McHugh and Anthony DiPaula last season, it’s clear that it needs to be solidified. So Fleming brought in both a kicker and a punter yesterday, and at the very least, they’ll back up McHugh and DiPaula – both seniors – this year. It’s also entirely possible that one or both of these guys could be starting from day one.
So, any thoughts on the 2015 recruiting class? Leave them in the comments!