After a historic season, several new signings outline Rhody football’s rebuild in 2023

The Rams have made 21 new additions so far in the offseason. PHOTO CREDIT:

With one of the best seasons in recent memory in the rear view mirror, the University of Rhode Island football team only looks to grow stronger, with numerous key additions in the off season including transfers, a new coaching staff member and up-and-coming recruits.

One of the biggest stories of the off season was the transfer of star URI offensive tackle A.J. Cornelius to the University of Oregon. Although Cornelius will undoubtedly be missed by the team, the Rams have brought in former four-star offensive tackle Kevin Pyne from Boston College, who should step into the role nicely. Pyne stands at a towering 6’7 300 lbs, and adds some size and Power Five experience to the Rams offensive line.

In addition to Pyne, the Rams also brought in two other power five transfers with second year running back Deon Silas from Iowa State and second year defensive lineman Desmond Mamudi from Virginia Tech. Silas has recorded 346 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns at Iowa State, but has dealt with a crowded and skilled running back room including NFL star Breece Hall. Mamudi was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school, but has struggled to see the field at Virginia Tech. It should be interesting to see how these transfers from storied programs add to the team’s play and culture.

The Rams also added former West Chester University running back Ja’Den Mackenzie and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga offensive lineman Brock Bethea. Mackenzie was a remarkable player on the Division II level, putting up eye-popping stats in his time at West Chester State with 2,603 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns in his three years there. His ability to adjust to Division I play and earn snaps will be another interesting factor to keep an eye on. 

In addition to all of the key transfers the Rams added this off season, several high school standouts were signed as well. With signings on both sides of the ball, perhaps the most interesting signing is quarterback Conner Kenyon from Austin, Texas. Kenyon threw for 4,068 yards in his two years as a starter for Bowie High School in Austin as well as 43 passing touchdowns with a mere 11 interceptions. 

Kenyon is faced with the task of joining an already stacked quarterback room, including three-year starter Kasim Hill, who was just granted an extra year of eligibility. With the talent URI has at quarterback, Kenyon will have to work extra hard to see the field.

The incoming recruiting class includes multiple Rhode Island natives such as linebacker Moses Meus out of Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, RI, and defensive end Patrick Converse out of Cumberland, RI. Adding local talent has always been important to the program, and these two look to make a splash for the Rams defense.

Another key signee for the Rams defense is two-time all state defensive back Freddie Camp hailing from New Hartford, Connecticut. Camp is the picture of versatility, leading Connecticut in total touchdowns this past fall with 30. These came from all facets of the game including receiving, rushing, interception returns, and kick/punt returns. With his diverse skill set and impressive size for the position at 6’1 185 lbs, Camp projects to be a star for the Rams over the next few seasons in Kingston.

Other signees for the Rams include:

  • Pharrell Adams – Defensive Lineman – Jersey City, NJ
  • Alvarez Baker – Wide Receiver – Melbourne, FL
  • Dontay Bishop – Offensive Lineman – New Britain, CT
  • Eddie Combs III – Wide Receiver – Orlando, FL
  • Harrison Crim – Offensive Lineman – West Springfield, VA
  • Dwayne Cureton – Defensive Back – Wake Forest, NC
  • Emmanuel Dankwa – Outside Linebacker – Wayne, NJ
  • Mitchell Garner – Defensive Back – Pallotti, MD
  • Carson Harwood – Running Back – Gloucester, MA
  • Case Mankins – Defensive Lineman – Attleboro, MA
  • Curlie Spencer – Defensive Back – Miami, FL
  • Devin Walter – Punter – Concord, NC

The coaching staff also added a new member this offseason, hiring former Nebraska graduate assistant Marcell Lazard as the new defensive line coach. Lazard has experience both playing in the Power Five at West Virginia University and Boston College, and coaching in it at the University of Nebraska, and should add a spark to the talented Rhody defense.

With a new coaching staff member, impressive transfers and key high school recruits all heading into the upcoming year for the Rams, this season looks to be an improvement on an already talented URI team.