(WPRI) — The University of Rhode Island football program made some big additions during the signing period via the transfer portal, hoping that experience could help the Rams get back to the playoffs for the first time in over 35 years.
Rhode Island added five transfers – three from the FBS level, including running back Deon Silas from Iowa State, defensive tackle Desmond Mamudi from Virginia Tech and offensive lineman Kevin Pyne from Boston College.
“I am feeling really good about this class so far,” said Rams head coach Jim Fleming. “Obviously we will continue to improve, but our program is better because of the guys that have made the decision to come and be a Rhode Island Ram. That’s on the field and in life.”
Silas, the most notable signee, appeared in 16 games during two seasons in Ames. Last season playing in all 11 games, rushing for 271 yards and three touchdowns, including one against National Championship runner up TCU. The 5-9 190 pound back is talked about as a match-up nightmare according to Associate Head Coach Mike Flanagan stating “Silas was an impact player at Iowa State. He makes defenders miss in multiple ways. He has great feet and an ability to score from anywhere on the field. His versatility makes him a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses.”
Silas will be joined in the Running Back room by DII transfer Ja’Den Mackenzie from West Chester University. Mackenzie rushed for over 2,500 yards and scored 30 touchdowns throughout three seasons of play. Carson Haywood will also join the Rams running back core, a high school signee from Catholic Memorial High School in Massachusetts.
Flanagan, who is also the Running Backs coach, is excited about all the different flavors that his room will be stocked with in 2023.
“You can never have enough talent in the running back room, and what’s so unique is that everyone has a different flavor,” said Flanagan. “Gabe [Sloat], Jaylen [Smith], and Jaiden Griffin can all line up outside and do damage from different spots on the field. Now you add two more guys with experience that can get tough yards and plunge through the line of scrimmage, we have something special.
Desmond Mamudi will join the Rams with three seasons of eligibility, despite playing in only three games for the Hokies due to injury, he is excited to be with a new team.
“I’m excited to join the Rams and make a difference on the defensive side of the ball,” said Mamudi. “We have some unfinished business in conference and make a playoff run which is well overdue at Rhode Island. “
Mamudi is described by the coaching staff as a sizable and athletic fit for Defensive Coordinator Jack Cooper’s 3-4 defense. Mamudi stands at 6-3 and 305 pounds, has violent heavy hands and can pose a threat fitting against both the run and the pass.
Mamudi will be joined on the defensive line by high school signees Case Mankins, son of former New England Patriot First Team All Pro Logan Mankins, Pharrell Adams, and Cumberland High School star Patrick Conserve.
Rhode Island let go of defensive line coach Umberto Di Meo at the end of December, after spending three seasons with the Rams. They hired Marcell Lazard in early January.
The big 6-8 310 pound Kevin Pyne rounds up Rhody’s FBS transfers. The offensive line grad transfer from Boston College will compete to fill the void of Ajani Cornelius. Cornelius, who traded in the turf farms of Kingston for the arboriculture of Eugene, transferred to the University of Oregon after a tremendous 2022 season with the Rams and will compete for the Ducks this fall.
Pyne appeared in one game for the Eagles across three seasons, but comes full circle as years ago his first ever offer was from URI, before blowing up into one of the most highly sauteed players in the 2020 recruiting class. A lengthy figure will most likely slot Pyne at tackle for URI, and fits the M.O. of a Rhody offensive lineman possessing a violent demeanor and rolling off of the football.
Pyne will be accompanied in the Oline room by Dontay Bishop, a product of New Britain High School in Connecticut, Harrison Crim from West Springfield, Virginia, and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga transfer Brock Bethea.
“We are adding some big physical dudes, some that have college football experience” stated Fleming. “I am excited to also see how the guys internally compete, Jordan Riendeau and Jacob Otts are itching at taking that next step, but from the scholarship guys to walk-ons, that O-line room is one of the best and coach [Stefon] Wheeler has done an amazing job with their development.”
For the last two seasons Rhody has been snubbed from playoff contention despite placing 5th in the CAA in 2022. The committee took sixth place Delaware as the fifth team from the conference to make the playoffs.
Other signees added so far for the Rams are:
- Emmanuel Dankwa, Outside Linebacker, Wayne Hills, N.J.
- Mitchell Gardner, Defensive Back, Pallotti, Md.
- Moses Meus, Linebacker, Pawtucket, R.I.
Wednesday, Feb. 1 is the finale of this signing period.