BALTIMORE, Md. – As he made the rounds with media members at the 2013 CAA Football Media Day, Rhode Island head coach Joe Trainer was hit with questions about the teams linebacking crew.
Junior Andrew Bose earned a spot on the league's preseason all-conference team. Bose enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, leading the Rams with 86 tackles while starting every game as a true sophomore.
However, as Trainer discussed with CAA Football Digital Media's Curt Dudley, the Rams have a pair of high impact players returning to the lineup this season. Seniors Doug Johnson and Dave Zocco, Rhode Island's two leading tacklers in 2011, are back. Johnson appeared in three games a year ago, while Zocco missed the entire season. In 2011, the duo combined for 178 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and four interceptions.
"They were both on various preseason honors teams (heading into last season)," Trainer said. "Having both Doug and David back will really give us a boost because both have been starters for a long time and have played a bunch of snaps. They are also going to provide us with great leadership on that side of the ball."
Having Johnson, Zocco and Bose along with sophomore Connor Caponegro (5 starts in 2012) gives the Rams a deep and talented group capable of matching any linebacker crew in the conference.
Asked about the emergence of Bose last season, Trainer told Dudley the team was looking for the Huntingtown, Md. native to take another step up this season.
"Like with any young player who has success, you hope he is able to evaluate (his performance) and then raise the bar to true excellence," Trainer said. "Not just be a pretty good player in a very good league, but be a great player in a great league."
Rhode Island begins training camp Sunday, Aug. 5. The season opener is Thursday, Aug. 29 at Fordham.