Indianapolis - The University of Rhode Island is representing the New England area with three prospects at this year's NFL Scouting Combine. The Rams of URI might be under the radar of big time college football but the trio hope to be the first wave to help change that.
Receivers Isaiah Coulter and Aaron Parker, who are also cousins, along with offensive lineman Kyle Murphy, are aiming to make an impression this week in Indianapolis that could get them selected in April's draft.
"Since we came in the door, you know, we knew what we were getting ourselves into," said Parker, who led the CAA conference in receptions (81) and receiving yards (1,224) to go with nine touchdowns. "Coming into a not so good program, coming up, but we worked our tails off to get here and we put in the work every day. Woke up and attacked the day every day to be in a position that we are now."
"I just feel like we just stuck to the process," said Coulter, who finished his final season just behind his cousin with 72 catches for 1,039 yards and eight touchdowns. "We knew what type of talent we had when we got there and you knew we could be a special group."
Part of their success was credited to when the Rams travelled to Foxboro to take in a Patriots Training Camp practice.
"Coach Fleming used to take us to Patriots Training Camp in August just to see how them boys work because they're a Super Bowl contender team every year," relayed Parker. "They're out there practicing with championship effort."
"Just to talk to the vets, they tell us their experiences," recalled Murphy. "Just the work ethic and what you need to do to make it to the next level. It really helps and it puts you in perspective that you could be there in a couple years, or next year."
Murphy might be the highest ranked prospect of the group as the team's left tackle. A two-year captain and 2019 second-team AP All-American, the Attleboro, MA native played all along the line during his time at Rhode Island.
"I've always been a big New England fan because I only lived 20 minutes from the stadium," said Murphy, who also takes inspiration from a Patriots offensive lineman who faced similar questions coming out of college.
"I always watch Shaq Mason because I know I was more of an undersized player," said Murphy. "Just watching him dominate every play, you can always tell he still has a chip on his shoulder. I feel like he got overlooked coming out of college. You know that's what I like to play with, a chip on my shoulder. I felt like coming out of high school, I was overlooked. I was always doubted. You just always got to take that to the field."
For Parker, it was Tom Brady's leadership that stood out most to him watching Patriots practice and it helped inspire him to exude similar leadership.
"How [Brady]'s leading his guys around," recalled Parker when asked what caught his eye at camp. "He's giving 110% out there even though he's the oldest guy on the field. It played a big tribute, just me being a leader out there, captain my senior year, seeing how Brady rallied up those dudes."
Whether their names are called at the draft or not, it's a good bet all three Rhode Island Rams will find themselves out on an NFL Training Camp field this summer, taking the lessons learned from Pats camp with them.