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Training camp for the 2017 football season begins on Monday, July 31. Over the next two weeks, GoRhody.com will take a look at Rhode Island's personnel at each position entering camp.
By Paul Mroz
KINGSTON, R.I. - Anchored by redshirt sophomore center Dwayne Scott (Bronx, N.Y), Rhode Island returns seven linemen who played last season, all of whom gained experience in at least five games.
Three of the primary starters from last season are back from the unit that allowed just 12 sacks after giving up 28 in 2015. As a result, passing yards per game increased for the Rams, who had their highest passing yards per game average since 2012). Last season, the team's total rushing yards also were up 625 yards from the previous year.
Scott – the unquestioned leader of the line – started all 11 games at center in 2016 and is the middleman who takes command in the trenches. Also back is redshirt junior Dino Boyd (Newark, N.J), who also played in all 11 games of the season. Boyd brings nifty talent on the left side of the line at tackle, making he and Scott the most experienced players in the group.
In addition to Scott and Boyd, Rhode Island returns left guard Kyle Murphy (Attleboro, Mass.), right guard Kevin Lawrence (Bloomfield, Conn.), and right tackle Derek Allen (Edison, N.J.). Each of them played in at least five games and showed drastic improvements as they spent more time together in 2016. Sophomore Keith Coleman, Jr. (Suffield, Conn.) also appeared in 10 games last season.
The Rams had their most rushing yards since 2013, as running back Harold Cooper led the team with 463 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground behind the young offensive line. In the passing game, the line allowed the third fewest number of sacks in CAA Football and was ranked seventh in the league with 161.1 passing yards per game. This was a significant improvement from 2015, when Rhode Island ranked 11th in CAA Football with 146.3 yards per game.
The primary competition will be at guard, where the Rams graduated two-year starter Michael Gilbert. During spring camp, senior Marcus Pantoja (Belleville, N.J.) was presented a chance at center while Scott recovered from injury. He acquitted himself well and is expected to challenge for a starting guard spot while also backing up Scott. Redshirt freshman Sean Anderson (Alexandria, Va./Mount Vernon) has a year in the system under his belt and will bring competition at the tackle spots.
Adding more to the competition on the line are incoming freshman Brandon Doggett (Montclair, N.J./Montclair) and Kareem Burton (West Hartford, Conn./Kingswood Oxford). Also, JUCO transfer Adriel Miller (Washington, D.C./Diablo Valley College) will add to the mix with experience at the collegiate level. With the combination of youth and experience on the roster, the incoming freshmen should have time to adjust and develop without pressure to perform immediately.
Check GoRhody.com Tuesday for a look at the 2017 Defensive Linemen.
Camp Preview: Center Scott Set to Anchor Offensive Line
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