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KINGSTON, R.I. – Rhode Island assembled the highest-rated signing class in program history, bringing 19 Rams into the fold Wednesday on National Signing Day.

The class includes eight players who received three-star ratings from 247sports.com. In the history of Rhode Island football, the Rams had less than five three-star recruits.

“We have added 19 high-impact players who we are very excited about,” Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming said. “Our staff worked the entire East Coast, from Miami up through Massachusetts. At a time when we were understaffed, the staff went out and found young men who are committed to continuing the upward trend of this program. This is a special class, and it will leave a positive mark on the University of Rhode Island.”

Florida proved to be a fertile spot for the coaching staff, as six natives of the Sunshine State will be coming to Kingston. The class also includes four transfers. Running back Kevin Brown (Massachusetts), defensive lineman Malachi Burby (Rutgers), defensive back Josh Doyle (Army Prep) and linebacker Evan Stewart (Boston College) are already enrolled at Rhode Island and will be with the team for Spring Camp.

The members of the 2019 Rhode Island recruiting class are:

Mekhi Bethel


6-1 | 215

Orlando, Fla. | Lake Nona

Originally from Orlando, Florida, Bethel joins the Rams after a standout career at Lake Nona High School. Bethel is a linebacker who set his high school record for tackles in a single game with 24 and tackles in a single season with 127. He also considered Coastal Carolina, Jacksonville State, the Citadel and Tennessee State. 

“Mekhi is a focused and poised individual. He’s a hard hitting LB that can run and play any of the LB positions. He will be a great addition to the unit.” – Troy Gilmer, Linebackers Coach

Kevin Brown

Running Back 

6-0 | 215

Everett, Mass. | Massachusetts

Brown joins the Rams after spending his freshman season at the University of Massachusetts where he was the fourth best rusher on the team with 120 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown despite only appearing in three games for the Minutemen. A native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, Brown spent his high school days at Everett High School.

“A powerful back from Everett, Kevin has proven he can play at any level of college football. A former 3-star recruit, Kevin looks to leave his mark in Kingston.” – Mike Flanagan, RB/TE Coach

Malachi Burby

Defensive Line

6-3 | 290

Berlin, Conn. | Rutgers

A defensive tackle from Berlin, Conn., Burby comes to Rhode Island after spending his freshman season at Rutgers University. Burby appeared in two games for the Scarlet Knights. Prior to Rutgers, Burby was a top-10 recruit in the state of Connecticut finishing his senior season with 42 tackles and 9.5 sacks at Cheshire Academy.

“Malachi is a versatile player that we will be adding to our front from Rutgers. His blend of athleticism, physicality, and toughness is something we all look forward to coaching.” – Jack Cooper, Defensive Coordinator

Ajani Cornelius

Offensive Line

6-4 | 320

New York City, N.Y. | Stepinac

At 6-4, Cornelius is an immediate impact offensive lineman that comes out of Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y. Cornelius comes from a culture of winning at Stepinac, having been a two-time state and league champion in both his junior and senior years in 2018 and 2019. Cornelius earned three varsity letters while playing at both tackle and guard. A team captain, he was the Offensive Lineman of the Year in the CHSFLAAA.

“This is a big, athletic offensive lineman that can play tackle and guard. He has made big changes to his body and has taken it to another level in the weight room. We are very excited to coach A.J.!” – Stefon Wheeler, Offensive Line Coach (Recruiting / Position Coach)

Josh Doyle


5-10 | 185

Valencia, Calif. | U.S. Military Academy Prep School

 Doyle comes to Kingston after spending last season at Army Prep. A cornerback from Santa Clarita, Calif., Doyle was a three-star recruit out of Valencia High School. He held offers from Army, San Jose State and Idaho following his high school career.

“Josh is a talented corner from Southern California. He plays with good instincts and has a knack for consistently being around the ball. His attitude, maturity, and competitive drive will bring a spark to the secondary.” – Chris Satoh, Defensive Assistant (Recruiting Coach)

“Josh bring great experience and attitude to our secondary. I look forward to seeing him play in our defense with his skillset.” – Jack Cooper, Defensive Coordinator (Position Coach)

Jared Heywood


6-0 | 180

Granada Hills, Calif. | Inglewood

Originally from Granada Hills, Calif., Heywood comes to Rhode Island with a pro-style, quarterback skill set. He finished his senior year at Inglewood High School in Inglewood, California with over 4,500 passing yards, 66 touchdown passes, 79 percent completion percentage all while only throwing seven interceptions on 222 passing attempts. 

 “A 3-star recruit coming from California, Jared has great arm talent and accuracy. He has the ability to extend plays with his feet. He is an ultimate competitor that will look to lead as soon as he steps on the field.” – Mike Flanagan, RB/TE Coach (Recruiting Coach)

Zion Jackson

Wide Receiver

6-0 | 190

Sanford, Fla. | Seminole

Rated as a three-star recruit according to 247Sports.com and Rivals, Jackson is a six-foot wide receiver from Sanford, Fla. Jackson is a four-year varsity starter Seminole High School where as a senior he finished the season with eight touchdown receptions and 14.3 yards per reception. Jackson also fielded offers from Central Florida, South Florida, Syracuse, Nebraska and several other FBS and Power Five conference offers.

“Zion is a 3-star recruit and is extremely explosive and strong. He has the ability to play inside and outside receiver. He will look to step in and make an immediate impact on offense.” – Mike Flanagan, RB/TE Coach (Recruiting Coach)

“Zion is strong, physical, and very competitive. He’s a young and polished at his position. With his skillset, I expect him to have a great impact on the field throughout his time at Rhode Island.” – Donovan Varner, WR Coach (Position Coach)

Fredrick Mallay

Defensive Back

5-9 | 175

Providence, R.I. | Mt. Pleasant

Mallay joins Rhode Island from Mt. Pleasant High School in Providence, R.I. Though he projects as a defensive back, Mallay was an explosive running back that had the nation’s top single-game rushing high of the season for the Kilties last fall, finishing a game with 521 yards on the ground. Mallay also played both sides of the football and led the state in both touchdowns and interceptions as a senior.

“A two-time all-state player from Rhode Island, Fredrick loves to compete. He is extremely physical with receivers on the line, and his eight interceptions show his ball-hawking ability. Look for him to make plays in his home state for years to come.” – Mike Flanagan, RB/TE Coach (Recruiting Coach)

“Fredrick is a great prospect in our home state. He will bring great speed and quickness in the secondary.” – Jack Cooper, Defensive Coordinator (Position Coach)

Brady Martin


6-0 | 195

Leominster, Mass. | Lawrence Academy

Listed as the No.7 prospect out of the state of Massachusetts, Martin is a three-star quarterback from Leominster, Massachusetts. Martin has spent the last three seasons at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts where he has matured into one of the top quarterbacks in the northeast. Martin chose Rhody over regional opponents New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Bryant.

“Brady has all the intangibles you look for in a modern QB. He has an amazing football IQ, is ultra competitive, and is a natural leader of men. On top of all of that he has that “IT” factor that the great QB’s all have. Add that to his accuracy, cannon right arm and his ability as a true dual threat QB and he’s a GREAT fit for our program and offensive system.” – Patrick Murphy, Offensive Coordinator (Recruiting / Position Coach)

Adam McKanna

Offensive Line

6-5 | 290

Summerville, S.C. | Summerville

McKanna joins Rhode Island after a standout senior season at Summerville High School in Summerville, South Carolina. McKanna was a first-team offensive lineman in South Carolina. He chose Rhody over Appalachian State University, Coastal Carolina University and the Citadel.

“Great kid with Rhode Island ties. He bends well, plays with a mean streak, and will add instant depth to the offensive line. Very excited about the potential in Adam.” – Stefon Wheeler, Offensive Line Coach

Jamall Mensah

Wide Receiver

5-11 | 180

Episcopal, Va. | Episcopal

Mensah is a wide receiver and defensive back from Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. where he captained the team during his senior season this past fall. Mensah has great speed having earned varsity letters in both football and track & field.

“Jamall is one of the quickest guys you will see. He gets in and out of his breaks with ease and possesses great hands. He will be able to showcase his skills in the slot and as a returner.” – Troy Gilmer, LB Coach (Recruiting Coach)

“Jamall is a speedster. He is able to catch the ball and get going without hesitation. He has a good understanding of underneath coverage and can also blow by defenders. He also has great value as a returner on special teams. Speed kills!” – Donovan Varner, WR Coach (Position Coach)

Westley Neal, Jr.

Defensive Tackle

6-0 | 315

Miami, Fla. | Gulliver Prep 

Neal, Jr. commits to Kingston after a four-year prep career at Gulliver Prep in Pinecrest, Fla. A native of Miami, Neal, Jr. is a defensive tackle who was ranked 60th at his position in the nation according to 247Sports.com and an ESPN three-star recruit. Neal, Jr. held offers from some of the ACC’s best in Virginia, Miami and Louisville.

“This is a big time prospect out of Miami. Rated a 4-star prospect by Rivals.com, Westley is a three-sport athlete that helped carry his team to the first undefeated season in school history.” – Donovan Varner, WR Coach (Recruiting Coach)

“Westley is a tremendous football player with a ton of athleticism and size that he will add to our defensive front. Plays with great effort and physicality.” – Jack Cooper, Defensive Coordinator (Recruiting Coach) 

Jacob Otts 

Offensive Line

6-7 | 285

Saint John’s, Fla. | Bartram Trail

A 6-foot-7-inch offensive lineman from Jacksonville, Florida, Otts joins Rhode Island after playing high school football for Bartram Trail High School in St. John’s, Florida. Otts chose the University of Rhode Island over Presbyterian College and Stetson University. 

“The first thing you obviously notice with Jacob is his size. He’s a monster. But when watching his film other attributes such as aggressiveness, athleticism become apparent as well as his nasty streak. He will have an outstanding career as a Ram.” – Patrick Murphy, Offensive Coordinator (Recruiting Coach)

“Jacob is a big offensive tackle with a ton of potential. I can’t wait to see and work with Jacob once he gets on campus.” – Stefon Wheeler, Offensive Line Coach (Position Coach)

Caleb Poe


6-1 | 180

Lakeland, Fla. | Victory Christian

Poe finished his senior season at Victory Christian High School in Lakeland, Florida with eight interceptions and 93 total tackles helping him secure the Polk County Defensive Player of the year award. Poe held other Division I offers from Georgetown University, Bethune Cookman and Jacksonville University.

“Caleb was the Polk County defensive player of the year. His versatility will give him the opportunity to play multiple positions within the secondary.” – Mike Flanagan, RB/TE Coach (Recruiting Coach)

“Caleb comes from a great high school and plays with a high football IQ. His toughness, range, and leadership will be a great asset for our defense.” – Jack Cooper, DC (Position Coach)

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