With departure of veteran QB, who will be under center for URI football this fall?

SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Jim Fleming hasn’t had to answer this question since the beginning of the decade.

Kasim Hill was the University of Rhode Island’s starting quarterback. His four years included 36 games under center and progress to contender status in both the Coastal Athletic Association and in the race for a long-awaited FCS playoff berth.

Hill has finally left college after seven years — a final COVID redshirt extended his time with the Rams through last fall. Devin Farrell and Hunter Helms are the leading contenders to succeed him, last season’s backup and a Clemson transfer who exit spring practice on seemingly equal footing.

More: In a rapidly-changing world, this Rhode Island football tradition endures.

URI football coach Jim Fleming, shown during a game last season, will have a decision to make this fall: Who will start at quarterback for the Rams?
URI football coach Jim Fleming, shown during a game last season, will have a decision to make this fall: Who will start at quarterback for the Rams?

“We’ve got tough decisions to make,” Fleming said. “That’s what it really comes down to. No one will know here until we know, which will probably be the day before Holy Cross.”

Saturday’s Blue-White Game at Meade Stadium offered no definite conclusion. Farrell and Helms will enter summer camp still competing after the Blue defense posted a 42-31 victory over the White offense.

Farrell threw the lone touchdown and Helms tossed the only interception of the day, which featured occasional rain squalls and a stiff breeze blowing across the turf.

“It’s been a great competition,” Helms said. “I don’t know if it’s over. Just pushing each other in the weight room, on and off the field. It definitely makes me better.”

Hunter Helms looks to pass in Rhode Island's spring football game on Saturday.
Hunter Helms looks to pass in Rhode Island's spring football game on Saturday.

“It has to come from within,” Farrell said. “It can’t be driven by other people around you. Yes, he’s there. He’s my competition. But I’m my competition. I have to get better every day.”

Helms closed 11-for-26 for 145 yards and profiles more as a pocket passer. He played nine games with the Tigers from 2020-23 and served as a backup to five-star prospects D.J. Uiagalelei and Cade Klubnik. His only serious mistake was picked off by former Mount Pleasant star Fredrick Mallay, who matched former St. Raphael standout Moses Meus with five tackles, a sack and a pair of tackles for loss.

“We all love Kasim but right now we’re focused on the future,” running back Jaden Griffin said. “We’ve got two good quarterbacks in front of us who have a lot of potential.”

Farrell finished 8-for-14 for 135 yards and added eight rushing attempts. He’s a dual threat who was also recruited out of high school as a defensive back. Farrell connected with former Classical star Marquis Buchanan on a 23-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, a pretty throw to the left corner of the end zone.

Devin Farrell, URI quarterback
Devin Farrell, URI quarterback

“I see great arm talent,” Buchanan said. “They’re both trying to be leaders out there and spread the ball around to the open man. We’re going to keep the QB battle going into camp and figure it out Aug. 31.”

Farrell redshirted in 2022 at Virginia Tech and played in six games last year at URI. He was a three-star prospect out of Georgia who held offers from Georgia Tech, Duke, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and others. Farrell left the Hokies after one season and flashed some of his versatility with the Rams when he got on the field last fall.

“I’ve been praying for this opportunity,” Farrell said. “I’ve been praying for this chance. It’s exciting. I’m loving every bit of it.”

Helms is a South Carolina native who was a preferred walk-on in his home state. He had interest from Bryant, Holy Cross, Campbell, Elon, Liberty, Troy, South Florida and others before enrolling with a national power. Helms has the Crusaders in common with his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach — Patrick Murphy left Worcester for Kingston prior to the 2020 season.

“It’s such a good place,” Helms said. “And I really think we can win here — that was also a big thing. Looking forward to seeing what we do this season.”

Griffin was the star in this one, rushing for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just five carries. His 65-yard score was arguably the highlight of the morning. Buchanan grabbed four passes for 84 yards as the top receiver in his position group, and both should be notable weapons when URI hosts Holy Cross in a 7 p.m. opener four months from now.

“I’m pleased generally with the whole thing,” Fleming said. “There’s plenty we’ve got to work on. We’re not ready yet.” 

On X: @BillKoch25 

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Who's the starting quarterback for Rhode Island football this fall?