Rush To Win

Rutgers redshirt sophomore walk on Paul James and Arkansas' duo of freshman Alex Collins and sophomore Jonathan Williams - three of the nation's top seven rushers - will be on display Saturday when the Razorbacks (3-0) visit the Scarlet Knights (2-1) in a 2:30 p.m. CST game televised by ESPN.

No other game on the Saturday college football docket will feature as many of the nation's top rushers than the trio that will be televised on ESPN in Arkansas' 2:30 p.m. CST game at Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights (2-1) sport the nation's leading rusher in redshirt sophomore walk on Paul James (6-0, 210), who has 61 carries for 493 yards (8.1 yards per carry average) and six touchdowns so far this season.

James – who had just five career carries entering this season - has gotten his yards in a loss to Fresno State and wins over lightly-regarded Norfolk State and Easter Michigan.

"With us playing Arkansas, people have been trying to put the idea in my head that I have to have a good game against them," James said earlier this week. "But I feel like every game I have to prove myself. Not a lot of people thought I could do what I've done against any of the teams we've played. So for me, I still have that mindset that I have to prove myself every game, no matter who we're playing. It really isn't about the opponent."

The Razorbacks (3-0) have the dynamic duo of freshman Alex Collins (70 rushes, 418 yards) and sophomore Jonathan Williams (51 carries, 393 yards), who are fourth and seventh, respectively, among the nation's best ballcarriers.

Both of the were highly-celebrated running backs in Florida and Texas and had to get used to sharing the load under Razorback head coach Bret Bielema.

Like James, both Arkansas tailbacks have topped the 100-yard mark in each of their three games this season with Williams averaging 7.7 yards per carry and Collins 6.0.

"To share the limelight with each other was a work in progress," Bielema said. "I did bring them both in after that second game...I just asked them a question – could you gain 300 yards in one game by yourself if you had to play every snap?

"They both said 'no,'" Bielema added. "I made them see the light that we are much better with the two of them both playing very, very well."

The Arkansas coach noted that he can see the pair bonding and realizing that the biggest reason for their success is the offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks opening holes for them.

"They've bought into that and they got their own little secret handshake and all that jazz," Bielema continued. "I think they are getting along better and better and they both know that the reason they have success is because of the people in front of them."

Bielema was asked on this week's SEC Teleconference call what he saw in Collins in Florida high school career that made him think the young man could have the success he has early on at Arkansas.

"Two things probably jump out to me more than anything," Bielema said. "First, he was heavily, heavily recommended by his high school coach before I ever saw film on him. It was a coach that I had known for a long time and he said 'Bret, we've got something special here.'

"And then when you see him live and also on tape, you see that he has a gifted burst and light feet," Bielema added. "It is like his feet don't really hit the ground. He is just kind of tapping on the front of his toes every play. He can accelerate and make some people miss and the great thing is that he is just beginning to scratch the surface.

"He ran for 115 last weekend and when you watched the film on Sunday you could see that he probably could have had another 100 yards if he would have just stayed with his reads a little bit longer," Bielema continued. "The great thing is that he is a kid that is growing in so many ways every day on and off the field. It is just fun to watch the development."

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood loves what James – who had only five career carries going into this season – has done with his opportunity this season.

James has four runs of over 50-plus yards so far this season – as many as former Rutgers and current NFL star Ray Rice had in his career and the most by any Scarlet Knight since 1999.

"I'm very pleased with Paul," Flood said following last Saturday's game. "And to consistently create big plays in the running game is what you want. When you look at the running game, there are certain things you look at and you have to eliminate negative runs. He's done a good job with that. You want to create big plays in the run game, which means you're going to have to break a tackle at some point, usually, and he's done that.

"So now he's got a body of work three games long, and he certainly has earned the right to be the starter and he's earned the right to carry the ball quite a bit," Flood added.

"So I'm excited about it, and I think going forward now...will be an even bigger challenge to do it against an SEC defense," Flood continued.

James is second in yards per game at 164.3, second only Washington's Bishop Sankey (184.5) and his six touchdowns equal the total amount the team had the entire 2012 campaign.

His lead blocker is fullback Michael Burton, also a walk on.

"It's not really surprising to me," James said following the Eastern Michigan game. "I knew I could do it. I just have to go out and do it."





Alex Collins





Jonathan Williams





Paul James


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