By Joe DeLeone
KINGSTON, R.I. - Replacing two team captains and CAA Football standouts is not a simple task, but Rhode Island fans can rest easy with several key contributors returning to the defensive line for this season.
The Rams defensive line will not be the same one we saw in 2017, after graduating senior captains Michael Ezrike and Jose Duncan. However, Rhody will still have seniors Tez Wilson and Monte Sinisi, along with juniors L.B. Mack III, and Brandon Ginnetti, who have all been impact players along the line.
Leading the unit is interior lineman Ginnetti, who earned second team All-CAA Football honors in 2017. A year ago, he led the team in sacks and was fifth in the CAA with 7.0. Starting all 11 games, Ginnetti also had 37 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss.
Coming off the edge are two dominant pass rushers in Mack and Wilson, who both appeared in all 11 games in 2017. Mack racked up 5.5 sacks and 38 tackles, as well as 12.5 tackles for loss which was good for sixth in CAA last season. Mack also earned STATS FCS Defensive of the week in his electric performance against Brown when he totaled 10 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble. Opposite of Mack, Wilson was just as productive in 2017 after converting from linebacker, where he played in 2016. Wilson took down opposing runners 57 times, amassed 5.0 sacks, and also finished tied sixth in the CAA with 12.5 tackles for loss.
Also returning is Monte Sinisi, a redshirt senior who has been a contributor in his four years with the Rams. With 29 career games under his belt, Sinisi has been a regular in the rotation since he arrived on campus. Last season, he finished with 5 tackles and one fumble recovery.
Several new faces figure to be impactful as part of the rotation this season. Junior Keith Wells transferred in from Lackawanna College, where he had 4.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss while leading his team to a spot in the Sun Bowl last fall. Freshmen Dylan Brown (6-3, 310) from Tampa, Fla. and James Makszin (6-3, 290) from Norwalk, Conn. bring large active bodies for the interior, while Ryan McDonough (6-4, 250) from Vero Beach, Fla. is a big, athletic end who had 9.5 sacks for Vero Beach last fall.
Filling out the rest of the depth for the defensive line are redshirt sophomore Andre Bibeault, redshirt freshman Tyler Wipper, and redshirt freshman Emil LaMarca. Bibeault has seen the field on special teams but has been limited by injuries. If he can stay healthy, he has the potential to be part of the regular rotation. Wipper and LaMarca both redshirted their freshman seasons, but Wipper was a standout performer in the spring earning him the possibility of cracking the starting rotation.
Freshmen walk-ons Dylan Washington (Millville, N.J.) and Tyler Geary (Beverly, Mass.) give Rhode Island depth along the line.
Check GoRhody.com Tuesday for a look at the quarterbacks on the 2018 roster.