Ayres Enrollment Boosts Rutgers Run Game

Middletown (Del.) running back Dontea Ayres has had sights set on early enrollment since he committed to Rutgers in May. Now 10 days away from his arrival, Ayres' value skyrockets following the loss of starting running back Jawan Jamison to the NFL.

Jawan Jamison's departure for the NFL leaves a huge hole in the Rutgers running game for 2013. Rising junior Savon Huggins will replace him as the starter, said head coach Kyle Flood today, but incoming freshman Dontea Ayres said he is as prepared as anybody to fill the hole.

Ayres is less than two weeks from enrolling early and has his sights set on competition from day one. With just three scholarship running backs on the roster, Ayres figures to earn early opportunities when he takes the field this March.

"Of course I'm ready for that challenge," Ayres said. "I feel right now that I could go in and I could be that guy. I just have to show it. God willing, I go in and I win playing time, I know I can do it. If I don't and this is going to be a learning year, a redshirt year, I'm going to meet it with the same energy."

Watching his Twitter feed, Ayres saw the news over the weekend that Jamison was gone to the NFL and met it with enthusiasm. The two bonded during Ayres' December official visit and are in the process of building a relationship.

"To see a kid going to the NFL from the same school as you, at the same position you're coming to play, that's incredible," Ayres said. "Already, in your mind you feel like it's possible, but then you see somebody else do it. It's amazing, but it's way down the road for me."

Ayres tore his meniscus in the summer before his senior year and did not play while attending Middletown. He transferred from Wicomico (Salisbury, Md.), the same school as fifth-year senior Wayne Warren, after his junior year to make himself eligible for early enrollment.

Not back to total 100 percent, Ayres said he will have no issue when spring practice begins and will embrace offseason workout plans from strength coach Jeremy Cole with enthusiasm.

"My knee is good," Ayres said. "I still have to take it slow. I can't go all out, but a few more weeks and it's no concern. I'm back in shape, explosive and my quickness is back. … I miss [football] a lot. It hurt to not play this year, but at the same time, it was a great year. Everything I wanted to do, I've done. I wanted to get a scholarship to a Division I program and that's what I did. Big picture, I prepared myself for Rutgers."

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