By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – If you’re wondering how many yards Jawan Jamison needs to crack the 1,000 yard plateau, all you need to do is ask him.
“137 more yards,” Jamison told SNY.tv when asked if he knew how close he was. “Me and my o-line, we both know.”
After each game, Jamison checks the stats to see how much more he has to go. The redshirt sophomore also knows how significant that number is at Rutgers.
Rutgers has had just seven 1,000 yard rushers in school history. Since 1975, Rutgers has had only two running backs rush for 1,000 yards.
“I was well aware of that,” Jamison said. “Coach [Kyle Flood] tells us too.”
Jamison is also cognizant of the last guy that did it. It’s the same guy that since emerging last season, he has been compared to. The best running back in school history, Ray Rice.
It’s a relation that he once took with chagrin. Now it’s one he’s come to embrace and enjoy.
“I love them,” Jamison said of the comparisons. “I like it because he’s done what I want to get done and he’s at where I want to get to ultimately, so if I’m compared to him, it means that I have to get to my own ultimate goal and the NFL.”
Recently, he got to talk to Rice about reaching those dreams, speaking with the All-Pro running back at the homecoming game. They exchanged phone numbers and the relationship is already budding. Rice has called Jamison’s mother last week and Jawan plans to lean on Rice regularly to use as a mentor.
“It’s amazing,” Jamison said. “Just knowing that I can call him and be like ‘what am I doing wrong. What do you see that I need to improve on and what can I improve on?’ and just have him tell me what I can do will be that much better because he’s been there and done it.”
And if you ask any Rutgers fans – who have been searching for “the next Ray Rice” since he left after the 2007, they’ve found their guy in the 5-foot-8, 200 pounder. And comparing the two backs is a common occurrence.
It’s an easy likening to make do due to their body types. They’re the same height and in college Rice was approximately the same weight Jamison.
While they do have some similarities – like good vision and hitting the hole quickly – they also have difference in their running styles.
“When they get through the first level of the defense, I think they’re different runners,” head coach Kyle Flood said. “I always felt like Ray was a run through your arms guy and Jawan’s a little bit more of a make you miss guy.”
That ability has been on display all season and have led to some jaw dropping plays, like his spin move on a 41-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to ice the game against USF.
“Those make you miss qualities – I’d love to tell you that we coach that, but those are god given and he just a knack for being able to do it and that’s why it happens,” Flood said. “It’s not something you even have time to think about as a runner. You either do it or you don’t do and he’s one of those guys that can do it.”
And Jamison is hoping that quality of his game helps him run out from under the shadow of Rice.
“While I’m here I’m loving it [the comparisons], and hopefully I get the chance to leave [for the NFL] and I want to set my own name,” Jamison said. “I want to leave my own mark.”
And have Rutgers fans looking for the next Jawan Jamison.