5 areas to watch as Rhode Island opens spring practice

Image courtesy of URI Athletics

The URI Rams kicked spring ball last week. They have three practices already under their belts and are in spring break this week. The Rams lost several key contributors from last season’s team most notably wide receiver Ed Lee, tight end Caleb Warren, offensive tackle A.J Cornelius, defensive back Jordan Jones, linebacker Jake Fire, running back Marques DeShields, hybrid Henry Yianakopolos and defensive back Pop Robinson.

Replacing major contributors like the players mentioned above will be difficult but the Rams have built up some quality depth and Coach Jim Fleming and his staff use the portal well. This spring will be important to identify which young players can step and step in and replace some of the players mentioned above.

It will be a busy spring in Kingston as the Rams coaching staff tries to identify which players will help them compete this fall.

Here five areas to focus on this spring with the Rams.

1. Kasim is back! Quarterback Kasim Hill was granted another year of eligibility and is back as the Rams starting quarterback. Hill is entering his fourth season in the system and had gotten better each season playing in the offense. Last season he threw for 2,592 yards and 19 touchdown passes. He also rushed for 268 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns as well. It will be intresting to see what area of his game he is working on this spring. Hill should once again be one of the top offensive players in the CAA and the nation in 2023.

2. Replacing Lee and Warren: Replacing wide receiver Ed Lee and tight end Caleb Warren will not be easy but the Rams have plenty of depth and talent on hand. Sophomore Jamail Mensah, redshirt sophomore John Erby freshmen Marquis Buchanan and redshirt junior Darius Savedge are among the receivers in the mix to have a bigger role this spring. Rutgers transfer tight end Kevin Shaeffer is a big target who is poised to fill Warren’s shoes this spring.

3. Transfer additions: Fleming and his staff do a tremendous job of utilizing the portal. This winter was no different as they were able to beef up the trenches. The additions of Brock Bethea (Chattanooga), Kevin Pyne (Boston College) and DT Devin Mamudi (Virginia Tech) should pay dividends up front. The staff is really excited about West Chester transfer running back Ja’Den McKenzie. McKenzie is a big back at 6-2 238. He will complement what is already on the roster well. Iowa State transfer Deon Silas also excites the staff with this big play potential.

4. Opportunity for young guys to step up: The spring is an opportunity for the young guys on the roster to step and get some valuable reps. With so many openings on both sides of the ball, the competition will be intense to replace some veteran players who have moved on.

5. Who replaces the familiar faces on defense? Replacing guys like Yianakopolos, Jones and Robinson will not be easy but the Rams are well stocked defensively and should have plenty of competition on all three levels of the defense. Cornerback Randy Jordan, safety Emmanuel Gomes are two guys that will step up and play bigger roles on the field and off the field as leaders this spring. Incoming freshmen Mitchell Garner is a player to watch in the fall. He could make an immediate impact as a hybrid safety.

The Rams wrap up spring practice on Saturday April 15th with the annual Blue-White Game.

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