Tyler Salk: Hello Hayden, how are you today?
Hayden Pryor: I’m doing well. We've been pretty busy this past month but it's nice to be able to see the start of the season approaching so quickly.
TS: How did the offseason treat you?
HP: I was busy, I was interning with a financial services company during the days and working at Town Pizza 2 at night. Football camp is actually a nice change where I'm only focused on football and able to see my teammates every day.
TS: Were you satisfied with last season?
HP: We definitely want to win more than 2 games. However, we were competitive in a good amount of them, having a tie or lead late in a couple games. This season we're much more focused on situational football and being able to come out of those close situations with a win.
TS: What are some differences on the roster for 2017? Who are some of the bigger names we won’t see anymore? Who are the new guys?
HP: Well we have 3 new quarterbacks to start. That makes a big difference but they've all come in and worked hard so I don't view that as a negative. We have a lot of talent at the offensive skill positions both from returning players and new additions. Our defense is much better now as we have remained intact from last season for the most part, and we all have a much better understanding of our roles after being together for so long. Obviously losing guys like Adam Parker and Charlie McKeeman is unfortunate, but I think that we will be able to compensate for their departures through other guys stepping up.
TS: So you have three new quarterbacks. Are they freshman or transfer students? How about the rest of the new players, who should we keep an eye on?
HP: 2 are transfers, Tyler Harris and JaJuan Lawson. The other new QB is a freshman from Hartford named Jahkari Grant. All three of them have looked really good so far in camp, and Vito Priore has been ridiculously accurate as the only returning QB. One player I think who's been surprisingly good so far in camp has been Matt Pires, a freshman WR out of New York. He always seems to make a big play at the right time for our offense.
TS: Who has really stood out to you so far at camp?
HP: By far the biggest standout has been my man Momodou Mbye at corner. He played a good amount as a freshman last season and has been making a ton of plays in camp. Another guy who's really improved is our fullback Joey Kenny, who's really gotten a lot better and has shown some serious speed for a guy his size. I think a breakout player might be Tez Wilson, who's been a linebacker in the past but is now playing on the defensive line. He's got ridiculous speed and great pass rush ability that will be hard for teams to defend.
TS: Last year you had some big games, like the one in Kansas. Who are some of the tougher opponents on the schedule for this season?
HP: Well we play in a really good division. James Madison is the defending national champion and they come to Kingston later in the season. Harvard is always a good game, as is Villanova. Right now we're really focused on Central Michigan, and the week after we have our first conference game against Stony Brook, who we played really well against last year but unfortunately they pulled out the win late. And of course we are always looking forward to our game against Brown and we hope to defend the cup.
TS: How does URI stack up against the rest of the conference?
HP: Like I said, we have a really talented conference, but I think we're really coming together as a unit and starting to click this year. We only lost a handful of seniors last season, so we should improve tremendously this season.
TS: If you chose one school aside from URI to win the conference, who would it be?
HP: I'm always picking URI, but if URI didn't exist for some reason, it would have to be JMU. They've just won the national championship so you know they're certainly capable of playing their conference opponents pretty well.
TS: This is your senior season. As a senior, how much more does each game matter?
HP: They really are priceless, because it's not like other sports where you can stay involved in a men's league on weeknights and have the same experience. Football is such a physical and complex sport, that you really won't ever find a competitive level that would compare to the NCAA after college unless you were to go pro.
TS: What are some of your personal goals?
HP: I just want to play this season and make great memories and win a lot of games with my teammates.
TS: Ideally you wouldn't lose a game. What would you say are realistic expectations of this team?
HP: I think we're going to have the first winning season for URI football since 2001, and hopefully go deep into the playoffs. Our fans are going to see us play against the best that the D1-AA has to offer, and if we win our conference I don't see how winning the national championship is out of reach.
TS: Thanks for joining me today Hayden. Good luck this season.
HP: Always a pleasure, thank you for speaking with me.
Hayden and the rest of the URI Rams began their season Thursday August 31st on the road against Central Michigan
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