Jamison vs. Rice: Weighing Similarities

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers has not seen a 1,000-yard rusher since Ray Rice in 2007, and sophomore Jawan Jamison could hit the mark as early as tomorrow against Kent State. With Rice comparisons running rampant, ScarletReport.com spoke to the only player on the roster to take the field with both – sixth-year senior Mason Robinson.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The Rutgers football consensus is that comparisons between Ray Rice and Jawan Jamison are premature, a little unfair, but completely unavoidable.

The magical start to the 2012 season is a mirror image to the turn of the program in 2006 in many ways, including the emergence of a star running back. But where Rice had three explosive seasons in the Rutgers backfield and is now a top-five running back in the NFL, Jamison is not even close to those accomplishments.

"To compare Jawan's success with Ray's success is very premature," said Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, who was the offensive line coach during Rice's renaissance on the Banks. "Ray rushed for 1,000 yards, then 1,700 yards, then 2,000 yards. So you're talking about a three-year body of work. Jawan is an excellent football player, he's one of the better play makers on our offense, but I just think it's a little early to start making those comparisons."

Jamison is 221 yards away from joining the elite 1,000-yard rusher club at Rutgers, where Rice and 90s star Terrell Willis are the only members in the last 30 years of Rutgers football.

Because of that fact alone, the comparisons are inevitable, said sixth-year senior Mason Robinson. Robinson, who returns punts and plays safety, is the only player on the roster to play on the same field as Rice.

Robinson emerged as Rice's primary backup at running back in 2007, the year Rice broke 2,000 rushing yards and left to join the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason as a second-round draft pick.

"It's not really fair for Jawan to be compared to Ray, but it's going to happen you're having success like this," Robinson said. "We're all guilty of it, but that's big shoes right there. I think Jawan needs to just stay focused like he is and the stats will come. He needs to be the best Jawan Jamison, not the best Ray Rice. Everything else will fall into place."

Getting Technical -- The way Robinson sees it, the similarities between Rice and Jamison are more based on success than style. Both have signature moves, but Rice used power to get to the second level, whereas Jamison uses his agility.

"There are some things that make each guy unique," Robinson said. "Ray didn't really have a spin move, but Jawan has an insane one. Ray had a stiff arm and Jawan uses his spin move instead. I think a lot of people would attest that Ray's stiff arm was one of the best that they've ever seen. It was feared. He could lift guys off the ground and what's crazy is that he did it consistently.

"Some of the similarities are kind of crazy. Ray's best stiff arm, the one that sticks out to everyone, was the one against South Florida when they were No. 2. It's the same thing for Jawan and his spin move. I guess both kind of made their memorable play against South Florida."

When it comes to an initial burst, Rice has the edge by a long shot.

"With Ray, his first 10-yard burst, no one could match that," Robinson said. "You could put a world-class sprinter up against him and Ray will beat him those first 10 yards. I see him with it in the NFL too. There's no one that can match it."

For most of his college career however, Rice struggled with breakaway speed at the second level. Some of his most famous runs did not end as touchdowns.

"One thing that sticks out about Jawan, I know Ray won't like it, but I haven't seen Jawan ever get caught from behind once he gets into the open field," Robinson said. "Ray had that run in the International Bowl, but he used to get caught sometimes."

By the Numbers -- Look at the statistics between Jamison and Rice and it is not even close. Rice ran for 1,120 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman, whereas Jamison red-shirted.

Midway through his third year as a Scarlet Knight, Jamison is approaching 1,000 yards for the first time. For Rice, he ended his third year as a Scarlet Knight as a second-round draft pick with 4,926 yards and 37 career touchdowns under his belt.

Jamison, however, can reach a number Rice never touched while at Rutgers if he continues to play well this season – one Big East championship.

"It's going to be a tremendous accomplishment to get to 1,000 and everything, but I just want to win. "It doesn't happen a lot here and it can be part of a memorable season. It's great for me and great for my offensive line. They work their butts off in the summer to get there. Ray is everything that I want to eventually be, but I'm not even close yet and that's OK. None of it matters if we don't win."

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