Nick Correia

URI's Nick Correia, left, plays in last Friday's scrimmage at Meade Stadium. The 6-6, 330-pound Correia has been named a preseason All-American by STATS Perform and Hero Sports. | Michael Derr, Special to The Sun

Offensive lineman Nick Correia was named a preseason All-American by STATS Perform and Hero Sports, while defensive back Jordan Jones earned a spot on the Hero Sports All-America squad and in College Football America Yearbook’s starting lineup.

“I’m really happy for those guys,” coach Jim Fleming said. “Preseason stuff is rat poison if you buy into it, but those guys work hard. I think it’s a testament not just to their performance over time, but to the program overall. They represent us really well and it’s nice to see those guys get preseason honors like that. They’re grounded kids. It doesn’t go to their heads.

“Now they’ve got to get their names on that one,” Fleming added, pointing to an All-America banner hanging on the Meade Stadium fence.

Correia, who's listed at 6-6, 330, is the latest in a long line of successful URI linemen. Tyler Catalina starred for the Rams, transferred to Georgia and played in the NFL. Dave Steinmetz took a similar route from URI to Purdue, and then to the NFL. Kyle Murphy was an All-American for the Rams in 2019 and has spent time with the New York Giants.

“I take great pride in being an offensive lineman,” Correia said. “It’s awesome. It’s my favorite thing to do in the world.”

Correia’s star turn has its roots in last season’s success. He has started 26 consecutive games for the Rams and last season, playing right guard, helped pave the way for URI to average more than 100 yards rushing per game.

“We’re expecting to hit the ground running and pick up where we left off — moving people, paving the way, scoring touchdowns,” Correia said.

While linemen operate in relative anonymity, defensive backs can grab the limelight, and Jones certainly did last year. On his way to second-team All-America honors, Jones snagged six interceptions and had eight pass breakups. Many of those plays seemed to come in crucial moments. He had a 100-yard interception return against Brown, and picked off a pass in the end zone to lock up a win over Delaware.

“I just go out there and try to do my job,” Jones said. “If the interceptions come, then they come.”

The 6-foot, 180-pound Jones was also picked to the CAA’s All-Conference team.

“I don’t really like to feed into that stuff,” he said. “I just try to focus on what’s next.”

URI is slated to open its season Sept. 1 with a conference game at Stony Brook. URI was picked third in the CAA and is ranked in both national preseason polls.

“It definitely feels good considering where we came from,” Correia said. “But preseason doesn’t really mean anything. It matters where you are in the end.”

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