By Joe DeLeone
KINGSTON, R.I. –The most intriguing position group to watch for 2018 might just be the cornerbacks. This Rhode Island unit includes a number of big-time producers and experienced veterans.
Leading the corners are seniors Ahkema Evans (Coatesville, Pa.) and Isaiah Hill (Passaic, N.J.). Both boast a ton of game experience since their freshman season, and each has competed in more than 25 career games for the Rams.
Evans played in all 11 games in 2017, finishing with 18 tackles, three pass breakups, and one interception. He moved around to a number of secondary spots, and also was a key veteran presence on special teams. After working as a third kick returner in past seasons, Evans will be among the candidates to be the primary kick returner.
Hill is back for a fifth season with the team thanks to a medical redshirt after seeing action in only three games due to injury last season. He was very productive in his limited time, totaling 18 tackles and two pass breakups. As the most versatile defensive back on the team, Hill has experience holding down positions at safety, corner, and the slot.
The most productive and promising players in this unit are juniors Rashod Dickerson (Seat Pleasant, Md.) and Momodou Mbye (Pawtucket, R.I.). Dickerson made early contributions as a freshman, but he took a major leap last year as a sophomore, starting nine of the 10 games he played. Dickerson had 48 tackles, two tackles for loss and four pass break ups. He is one of the top young corners in CAA Football.
In 2017, Mybe hunted down footballs from all over the field. Last season he racked up two interceptions, a team-high seven pass breakups, and a league-leading three fumble recoveries. At URI, Mybe has moved all around the secondary. He comes into camp expecting to be a corner, but he spent a majority of the spring at safety. His position flexibility will help the Rams ensure they have as many of their top players on the field at all times.
Coming off a strong rookie performance after redshirting his first season is Kwadir Brown (Paterson, N.J.). He tied Mbye for the team lead in pass break ups with seven while adding two interceptions. Playing primarily in the slot, he had 33 tackles, one sack and three tackles for loss.
Junior Malik Wilder (Bronx, N.Y.) transferred from Nassau Community College and was with the team for spring camp. He made several impressive plays in the Blue-White game and will challenge for immediate playing time. At Nassau, Wilder earned NJCAA Second-Team All-America honors. Rhode Island also recently brought in freshman Cayvian Holmes (Apopka, Fla.). Holmes is viewed as an immediate impact freshman who has the potential to compete for time at either corner or safety.
Sophomore Dylan Allhusen (Hope, R.I.) also transferred in time for Spring Camp. He is coming in from Castleton, where he appeared in eight games and had four tackles to go with a fumble recovery in 2017. Filling out the depth for the Rams is redshirt freshmen Malik Gavek (Cranston, R.I.). Gavek was a key member of the scout team in 2017 and could carve out a role on defense or special teams
Check GoRhody.com Monday for a look at the tight ends on the 2018 roster.