Football Team Adds 20 Players on Signing Day

Football Team Adds 20 Players on Signing Day

KINGSTON, R.I. – Rhode Island head coach Joe Trainer announced his 20-member 2013 recruiting class as part of National Signing Day Wednesday.

"You almost feel like a kid on Christmas morning come Signing Day," Trainer said. "We couldn't be more excited about this group. It's a great blend of skill guys, semi-skill guys and big bodies. We were able to address all three levels on both sides of the ball."

The Rams added a group of physically mature players on both sides of the ball that are going to make an immediate impact in Kingston. Of the 20 players announced, 10 are at least one year removed from high school already. The recruiting class includes a pair of Division I-A transfers – defensive end Blake Jones from Ohio University and wide receiver Jujaun Wynn from Rutgers.

"We have two Division I-A transfers, thee junior college standouts and five prep school guys in this group," Trainer said. "Within this recruiting class today is a group of players who are going to be able to help out right away, and we are very excited about that."

Ricky Bailey - Video
6-1 | 195 Lbs.
Youngstown, N.Y. | Niagara Falls

An all-around athlete, Bailey was a quarterback in high school, though he projects as a safety at the college level. As a senior at Niagara Falls, he averaged more than 7 yards per carry, gaining 337 yards and scoring three touchdowns on 47 attempts. He also passed for 335 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, he had 32 tackles, five passes defensed, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and one return for a touchdown in six games. 

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Ricky was a standout quarterback, a three-year starter. He played some defensive back, but was really prolific as a quarterback. He is coming to us highly, highly recommended and was one of the better players in that area. We see him as a free safety, and you love the fact that a safety played quarterback in high school, because he can think like a quarterback in the secondary."

Denzel Benton - Video
Wide Receiver
5-11 | 180 Lbs.
Buffalo, N.Y. | Canisius

An All-Catholic First-Team selection last fall, Benton also earned All-WNY Second Team and All-State Honorable Mention honors for Canisius as a senior. In his final season there, he caught 38 passes for 715 yards and seven touchdowns. For his career, Benton finished with 85 catches for 1,635 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Denzel has great speed and great hands. As a slot receiver, you want those guys who have some wiggle and can make some of those linebackers and safeties miss. Along with being explosive with great speed, he's a guy with some shake, too."

Luke Casey - Video
6-4 | 200 Lbs.
Columbia, Md. | Athloton

An athletic quarterback, Casey joins his older sister Caroline – a starting middle blocker for the women's volleyball team – at Rhode Island. Casey passed for 1,512 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior season. He completed 102-of-181 attempts, and also had 1,200 rushing yards. Casey was a First-Team All-Howard County selection at quarterback, and was nominated for the Big 33 Maryland Team. He also was selected to the Baltimore Touchdown Club All-Star Game. 

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Luke is a guy, offensively, who is going to be able to help us with what we are trying to do offensively, running some quarterback rushing plays. He run out of shotgun formations, but can throw the ball well, too. Luke is a dual threat for us, and we are excited about having him."

Kelly Dobbins - Video
Defensive Back
6-2 | 190 Lbs.
Springfield, Mass. | Bridgeton Academy

A safety and wide receiver at Springfield Putnam during his high school career, Dobbins comes to Rhode Island after a prep season at Bridgeton Academy. He projects as a defensive back for the Rams and plays the game with a mean streak that teammates feed off of. After helping Springfield Putnam win the Western Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl, Dobbins played in the 2012 Shriners All-Star Classic last June.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"One of our focuses this year was to recruit a number of post-graduate students here. We wanted some guys coming in as 19- or 20-year-old freshmen, giving us a maturity factor. He is a very physical and athletic player who plays with a nastiness. You can tell he's got a passion for the game." 

Mike Eziricke - Video
Defensive End
6-2 | 230 Lbs.
Laurel, Md. | Fork Union Military Academy

During a prep season at Fork Union Military Academy, Eziricke was voted as the team's hardest working player. He joins 2012 recruits Andre Scott and Sam Hartman on the trail from Fork Union to Rhode Island. As an All-Conference selection during his senior season at Palloti High School, he had 44 tackles and 11 sacks.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Mike is already enrolled here as a post-graduate student who went to Fork Union Military Academy. Even though he's coming in as a freshman, he's got an opportunity to come in and help next fall because he's made the transition to college already. He's very, very athletic."

Davonta Farrell - Video
6-3 | 215 Lbs.
Baltimore, Md. | Lackawana

A transfer from Lackawana, Farrell led the Northeast Football Conference in every major statistical category for quarterbacks in 2011, when he earned First-Team All-Northeast Football Conference honors. Last season he passed for 1,080 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 341 yards and 10 touchdowns in nine games.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"He is a very athletic quarterback with a tremendous arm. The coaches at Lackawana raved about him as a person and as a quarterback. His film speaks for itself. When you bring an older guy in, you are expecting them to compete. We think he is going to do that."

Josh Gross - Video 
Tight End
6-3 | 235 Lbs.
Glen Burnie, Md. | Hudson Valley CC

Gross is latest in the Hudson Valley Community College pipeline for Rhode Island, joining Rhody veterans Mike Henderson and Mackenzie Elliott in Kingston. A First-Team All-Region selection for Hudson Valley as a sophomore, Gross had 21 catches for 337 yards and three touchdowns. A Dean's List student, he brings exceptional talent to the tight end position.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Josh Gross is a truly, truly special player. He has tremendous hands and is physical enough to play on the line of scrimmage. He's also athletic enough to spread him out in your three- and four-receiver sets. He's a guy we are really excited about."

Derrick Holmes - Video
6-3 | 205 Lbs.
Hargrove, Mass. | Hargrove Military Academy

An Atlantic Coast League All-Star during his senior year of high school, Holmes is a physically mature player after spending a prep season at Hargrove Military Academy. He and his brother Nathan already are enrolled at Rhode Island. Derrick projects as a safety with a strong ability to read plays before the snap.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"We think Derrick is going to be a great safety for us. He looks the part. When you are looking at intangibles, Derrick is a kid who has tremendous passion for the game, and that is always important in the recruiting process."

Nathan Holmes - Video
6-3 | 205 Lbs.
Hargrove, Mass. | Hargrove Military Academy
A versatile player capable of playing on either side of the ball, Holmes was an Atlantic Coast League All-Star and an Eastern Massachusetts All-Star during his senior year of high school, when he had 24 rushing touchdowns to set his school's record. Like his brother, he is already enrolled at Rhode Island after spending a prep season at Hargrove Military Academy.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer: 
"We are recruiting Nathan as an athlete. He is athletic enough to be a linebacker, where he is a snotknocker-type of player. He's also athletic enough to be a tight end, an H-Back or a fullback. He's a very physical player. We believe he can help us right away, certainly on special teams and maybe on our two-deep come next fall."

Robert Howard - Video 
Defensive Tackle
6-3 | 290 Lbs.
Syracuse, N.Y. | Alfred State

A transfer from NJCAA Alfred State, where he had 32 tackles, including eight for a loss, in six games last fall. Howard had two sacks last season, and figures to bolster the Rams in the middle of the defensive line immediately.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Robert is what you look for in that three-technique, defensive tackle position. He's a wide-body guy who is a glass-eater inside.  He has a big lower body and is very explosive for that type of body."

Abdul Ibrahim - Video
Wide Receiver/Defensive Back
5-11 | 165 Lbs.
Queens, N.Y. | Jamaica

Ibrahim played for Rhode Island Hall of Famer Cal Whitfield and comes to the Rams as an explosive receiver. He had 20 catches for 523 yards and five touchdowns as an All-Boro selection last season. Also a standout athlete on the track and wrestling mat, Ibrahim gives the offense a flexible weapon.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"He has a wiry build, but this is a kid who has explosiveness and can play receiver both on the outside and the inside." 

Blake Jones - Video
Defensive End
6-0 | 225 Lbs.
Mechanicsville, Va. | Ohio University

One of two BCS transfers headed to Rhode Island, Jones played 25 games for Ohio in 2011 and 2012. In two seasons with the Bobcats, he had 11 tackles and two sacks while helping Ohio reach bowl games each year. Coming out of high school, Jones was the 48th ranked college prospect in the state of Virginia after being a First-team Associated Press All-Virginia and First-Team Virginia High School Coaches Association Defensive End out of Hanover High School. 

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Blake is a guy who has played a ton of football at the highest level. Ohio U. is a great program that has been to a few consecutive bowl games, and Blake is a guy whose impact is going to be felt here right away."

Andrew Matos - Video
Running Back/Wide Receiver
6-1 | 200 Lbs.
Ansonia, Conn. | Ansonia

A team captain, Matos led Ansonia to a perfect 14-0 season while earning First-Team All-State honors in Connecticut. An explosive weapon on offense, he rushed for 319 yards on just 36 carries and also caught 39 passes for 1,049 yards as a senior.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Andrew Matos is just a tremendous athlete. He is a bigger receiver who can also carry the ball out of the backfield. One of the things we try to look for out of our skill positions offensively is that versatility. The more multiple looks you can give with your offensive personnel, the harder it makes for the defense to hone in on what your offensive philosophy is going to be."

Charlie McKeeman - Video
6-3 | 210 Lbs.
Portsmouth, R.I. | Bishop Stang

During his senior season at Bishop Stang, McKeeman was a team captain and was voted as the team MVP while earning Boston Globe All-Scholastic Team honors. McKeeman rushed for 1,225 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on offense. As a middle linebacker, he led his defense with 131 tackles.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"In some respects, Charlie's film looked like the old Little League clips. He was one of the biggest guys on the field, carrying the ball and just kind of bouncing off of people. His father, Joe McKeeman, was a great player, so we know he is coming from great stock." 

Adam Parker - Video
Linebacker/Running Back
5-11 | 223 Lbs.
Yonkers, N.Y. | Taft

A player who could wind up on either side of the line, Parker rushed for 619 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 13 catches for 217 yards and two more scores as a senior. On the defensive side of the ball, he had 21 tackles, including five sacks. He also had one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Adam is a tremendous person and he has a great motor on the field. He is a bit undersized, but he covers a lot of ground and is a physical player. He reminds us a little bit of Andrew Bose, though he is not a long. He plays with a good kind of recklessness and does a lot of good things on film."

Ahmaad Randall - Video
Offensive Line
6-4 | 290 Lbs.
Blackwood, N.J. | Highland Regional

Randall brings a strong frame to the offensive line after earning First-Team All-Conference honors for Highland Regional last fall. Strong in the classroom with a 4.0 grade-point average, Randall also played basketball and was a Second-Team All-Conference discus thrower in high school. 

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"We think we have a tremendous find in getting Ahmaad Randall. He is very athletic and powerful upfront, and he is a phenomenal student. This is a guy with tremendous upside and tremendous passion for the game."

Naiquan Thomas - Video
Running Back/Defensive Back
6-1 | 200 Lbs.
Englewood, N.J. | Dwight Morrow

One of the most explosive players in North Jersey last fall, Thomas. rushing for 1,800 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. He set Dwight Morrow's single-season rushing record and was selected to the All-League, All-County and All-North Jersey teams. Defensively, he had 80 solo tackles, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one touchdown. 

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"We approved Naquain on both sides of the ball, which doesn't happen all the time. Usually when you say that to a kid, they want to play running back. He sees himself more as a safety in college, but this is a physical, physical player with great speed." 

Dave Steinmetz - Video
Offensive Line
6-7 | 305 Lbs.
Grafton, Mass. | Grafton
A captain on the 2012 Massachusetts Division 4 Super Bowl championship team, Steinmetz was a First-Team All-Sothern Worcester County League pick in 2011 and 2012. After his senior season, he was named to the Shrine Chowder Bowl Central Mass All-Star Team.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Dave is a kid who has been in our camps, so we know as much about him athletically as anyone we have recruited. He is a tough competitor who hates to lose. He reminds us of Nate Solder in that he is a tall drink of water who can still get under guys and play with leverage."

Jawaun Wynn - Video
Wide Receiver
6-3 | 215 Lbs.
Piscataway, N.J. | Rutgers University

One of two BCS transfers in this year's recruiting class, Wynn played on special teams during two active seasons at Rutgers. During his time there, he switched between wide receiver and defensive back, but he figures to challenge for a full-time role on offense in Kingston. At Piscataway High School, he was a Home News Tribune Third Team All-Area selection on offense, finishing his senior season with 20 receptions for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Coming out of high school Wynn was rated by SuperPrep Magazine as New Jersey's No. 24 prospect and the Garden State's fourth-best wide receiver. 

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"We are very excited to get Jajaun. We think this is another player whose impact is going to be felt right away. He has very good speed, great hands and he is a physical player who can help in the running game. This is the kind of guy you look for in an outside receiver."

Eerin Young - Video
Running Back/Wide Receiver
5-10 | 180 Lbs.
Philadelphia, Pa. | Imhotep

An All-Public League selection each of the last three seasons, Young finished his career with 2,618 rushing yards and 825 receiving yards. During his prep career, he scored 41 touchdowns and was a Second-Team All-State selection as a senior.

Rhode Island Head Coach Joe Trainer:
"Eerin is a guy who is explosive with the ball in his hands. He can run the ball, be a receiver and make an impact in the return game. He's a guy, as a freshman, we are expecting great things from right away."