HERO Sports welcomes you to "Two-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 125 FCS programs, with two being released each day from June 18 to August 18 (with the final day having three in one day). Today we give you … Rhode Island.
Rhode Island (3-8 IN 2017)
Colonial Athletic Association (Rhode Island was T-10th in 2017)
COACH: Jim Fleming – 5h year (7-38)
2017 OFFENSE: 20.2 ppg (90th in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 27.3 ppg (73rd in FCS)
SUM IT UP: Rhode Island's reputation as the CAA's perennial last place program is hard to forget about, but the Rams may be unfairly pegged as this year's 12th place team. Unlike previous seasons that were truly hopeless, URI has seriously threatening pieces on both sides of the ball, starting with preseason All-CAA selections Aaron Parker and Brandon Ginnetti. The Rams appear to have strong position groups at wide receiver, defensive line and defensive back; the remainder of the roster has been heavily supplemented by half a dozen new arrivals via the transfer market.
Rhode Island may still offer a funky two-man show under center, with JaJuan Lawson and Tyler Harris both hypothetically competing for minutes this fall, but there are enough genuinely good players around them that uncertainty at QB might not be a disqualifying factor. That's a major departure from Rams teams of the last decade, where talent and cohesion were often in scarce supply.
BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Rhode Island could legitimately have a winning season in 2018. It's not impossible. The November schedule features games with Elon, James Madison and New Hampshire, and those are probably all losses. However, September and October are ripe with possibility, featuring home games with rebuilding teams like Brown, Maine and William & Mary. The Rams could even stand a chance to give FBS UConn a scare, given how terrible the Huskies have been over the last few years. Another near-upset of an FBS team and a .500 season would show a lot of forward progress for a Rhode Island program that's been otherwise buried for quite some time.
TOP RETURNEE: WR Aaron Parker (Preseason All-CAA, 823 Receiving Yards in '17).
THE NEXT FIVE: DL Brandon Ginnetti (Preseason All-CAA, 10.5 TFL's in '17); LB Justin Hogan (Team-Leading 90 tackles); OL Dwayne Scott (22 Starts at Center); DB Momodou Mbye (84 Career Tackles, 7 PBU's & 2 INT's in '17); DL Tez Wilson (24 Career Starts, Ranked 6th in CAA with 12.5 TFL's).
TOP NEWCOMER: RB Naim Jones (JuCo transfer, averaged 8.5 ypc in '17).
DID YOU KNOW?: Rhode Island's oldest buildings are made out of locally quarried granite, and much of the central portion of campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
THE QUOTE: "I think we are talented enough to be competitive and a championship contender. I honestly believe that." -Head Coach Jim Fleming to WPRI, last week at CAA Media Day
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
THE HASHTAG: #GoRhody
FOOTBALL TWITTER: @RhodyFootball
— Mike Lago (@Coach_Lago) July 25, 2018