The last time a University of Rhode Island football player walked across the stage at the NFL Draft, Bill Buckner was still a beloved Boston first baseman and the New England Patriots were fresh off their first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
Bob White, a 6-foot-5, 272-pound center/guard, was selected by the New York Jets with the 189th pick overall in the seventh round of the 1986 NFL Draft and would go on to play professionally from 1987-89. Since then, eight Rams have appeared in the NFL, but none of them lasted longer than three seasons. Former URI linebacker Andrew Bose could be the one to break the streak.
Bose certainly has the talent to make it as a pass rusher in the NFL, as he finished in the top 10 across the entire FCS subdivision this past season and led Rhode Island with 125 total tackles. His 10.4 tackles per game were good for 14th in the country as well. He also led the Rams in sacks, of which he had 4.5 for 37 yards lost, and 14.5 tackles for losses, which put him tied for 56th nationally. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound defensive stalwart also pulled down an interception and forced two fumbles.
“[Bose] brought knowledge and leadership and play-making ability,” Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming said. “His statistics were ridiculous. What I’ve always told him is, when we came in after the season wondering what my thoughts were on his future as an NFL football player, I said they’ll look because the stats are going to make them look.”
Bose did his work on one of the worst defensive teams in the country, too. The Rams were the 97th-ranked overall defense (442.6 yards per game) and the 110th-ranked rushing defense (231.1 rush yards per game) out of 150 ranked teams in the FCS subdivision.
History is not on his side, though. 14 of the 19 Rams to appear in the NFL lasted no longer than three seasons. Additionally, the only URI linebacker to ever play in the league never started a game, per Pro-Football-Reference.com. Fearon Wright saw action in seven games for the Minnesota Vikings and recorded two tackles. However, Wright was Bose’s height and weighed five pounds less, so there is hope yet for the Huntington, Maryland, native.
While a majority of the talent at the NFL Draft emerges from Division I FBS teams, there has been an average of nearly 21 players selected from the FCS or Division II squads over the past six years. Last year, two players had their names called from the Colonial Athletic Association, the conference that holds URI. Running back Terrance West out of Towson was taken with the no. 94 overall pick in the third round by the Cleveland Browns. Minnesota took Maine cornerback Kendall James in the sixth round with the no. 184 overall pick.
Jordan Tripp, whom the Miami Dolphins selected in the fifth round last year, played in 53 games for the University of Montana during five seasons. He was granted an extra year of eligibility after suffering a season-ending injury three games into the 2011 campaign. He recorded 335 tackles, 11 sacks, 29.5 tackles for losses, five interceptions, three QB hits, 11 pass breakups, seven forced fumbles and a blocked kick. Bose amassed 295 career tackles, five forced fumbles, 28.5 tackles for losses, one interception, six sacks, five pass breakups, two QB hits and a blocked kick in 11 fewer games. Â Bose is a late-round NFL talent.
Bose could be a fit for a team like the Arizona Cardinals, who are losing linebackers to free agency this year and could afford to infuse some new blood into their powerful defense with a late-draft steal. The Jacksonville Jaguars have seemingly committed themselves to a total rebuild through free agency and the draft, which could give Bose the chance to move down the East Coast. He almost certainly will not be starting Week 1, but with an impressive performance during training camp on defense and the kicking team Bose could earn himself a roster spot.
If all else fails, though, he could be like Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns or Cleveland running back Isaiah Crowell, both of whom were undrafted free agents who made the most of their opportunities. Hurns is quickly becoming a centerpiece of a youthful receiving core, while Crowell and the aforementioned West have formed a solid contingency in the backfield for Cleveland. Bose could be that surprise, too, who fits well into a system and shines.
“He’s got good physical skills that are going to transfer well into that league,” Fleming said. “It’s a crapshoot. All you really want to make sure you get accomplished for Andrew is an opportunity in a camp. If he can get into a camp, then he can couple both the defense and special teams, and have a chance to make a team.
When the final rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft air in late April, it would come as no surprise to hear the First-Team All-CAA linebacker’s name called, just as it was so often in his four years at URI.