Rhody Grand Team to be Honored Before Kickoff Saturday

Rhody Grand Team to be Honored Before Kickoff Saturday

KINGSTON, R.I. – More than three dozen members of the Fans' Choice Rhody Grand Team are expected to return to Meade Stadium as part of the Homecoming festivities for Saturday's game against Delaware.

Earlier this month, 50 players and coach Bob Griffin were named to the Rhody Grand Team, which was chosen as a way to celebrate the football program reaching 1,000 games played dating back to 1895.

The Rhody Grand Team will be honored on the field 15 minutes before the opening kickoff. More than 50 seasons of Rhode Island football are represented by players on the team, dating as far back as 1951. Every season from 1973 through 2012 is represented by at least one player.

Running back Pat Abbruzzi - who played from 1951 through 1954 - is the player who reaches furthest back into history. Abbruzzi was the top vote getter at his position and remains the school's all-time leading rusher 59 seasons after his career with the Rams ended. He will be represented Saturday by his daughter, Dianne Abbruzzi Gempp ('78)

The Fans' Choice Rhody Grand Team list includes 14 players who earned a combined 37 All-America honors from various organizations. Quarterback Tom Ehrhardt, running back Joe Casey, tight ends Brian Forster and Darren Rizzi, wide receiver Cy Butler and linemen Dustin Bayer, Rich Pelzer and Bob White earned All-American honors on the offensive side of the ball. Rizzi - now the special teams coordinator for the Miami Dolphins - earned a combined nine All-American honors from seven different organizations, the most for any player in school history.

Defensively, linemen Tony DeLuca, Lou D'Agostino and Frank Ferrara each were recognized as All-Americans during their respective careers, as were defensive backs Mike Cassidy, Lance Small and Kevin Smith.

Four members of the Fans' Choice Rhody Grand Team also were selected in 1996 to the Yankee Conference 50th Anniversary Team. Forster, Smith, defensive lineman Steve Furness and offensive lineman Jeffrey Williams are all considered among the best players in the history of the Yankee Conference.

Several of the Rhody Grand Team members will attend a special function Friday night hosted by the Mews Tavern and owner George McAuliffe. The current radio team of Steve McDonald and Terry Lynch will be joined by the legendary voice of the Rams, Jim Norman to honor team members.

Saturday morning, there will be a tent in the tailgate area designated for Rhody Grand Team members and their families. Top Shell Pizza Gourmet and Jack Parente will be providing the food in the tailgate area.