The injury bug did not bite Rutgers hard in training camp, but it tasted two playmakers at the midway point.
Neither made an impact in the week-one loss at Washington, but both played pivotal roles for the Scarlet Knights in their bounce-back win against Howard on Saturday.
“It definitely felt good being back out there with my brothers to help contribute, to help my team win,” said Martin, who earned the start at running back over senior Justin Goodwin. “We got off to a little slow start. I definitely got a lot I need to improve on. Definitely had to get some of that rust off me today, but I’m glad we came out victorious.”
Martin resumed his role at running back with 15 carries for 83 yards and a long of 16. He said he felt good after his return from a hamstring issue that lingered from last month.
“I made sure, when we got back out to practice (during the week), that I was going to go hard every play, no matter what,” Martin said. “If it was pass blocking, if I was running the ball, inside run — anything. I was just trying to provide a spark for the team and just push my brothers and fellow RBs so we could all get better together.”
Martin said he wants to take another step forward Saturday against New Mexico.
“I just got to prepare harder, really got to zone in even more when we come back tomorrow because we’re going to be starting to go back to work (after the game),” he said. “Try to have a real solid practice and just keep working my tail off.”
As the run game opened up between Martin and Janarion Grant, the pass game eventually did the same.
But by the end of the day, the top wide receiver of the day came in a bit of a surprise in the form of Harris.
The 5-foot-9, 192-pounder recorded a team-high 46 yards on two receptions. One came on a 29-yard, stalk-and-go touchdown pass from junior quarterback Chris Laviano to open the fourth quarter.
The return from injury was different for Harris after a nonexistent offseason. He started immediately for the baseball team as a true freshman in the spring and went right back to football once his season ended in the summer.
“I had a long process adjusting (from baseball to football),” Harris said. “So I felt, as far as in the weight room, they were able to get my body right. And then, also, working out … during baseball season, I come and sit on meetings and learn the plays. So that kind of gave me a little boost and we came in the summer, started doing our player 7-on-7s. So I felt like I was right there with them.”
Laviano sees Harris as a key contributor for the spread offense going forward.
“Jawuan is a really quick, good offensive player in space,” Laviano said. “Glad we got him his touchdown in his second game of the season to give him some confidence because he’s a good player and he’s going to be useful for us throughout the season.”
Harris, who lined up wide and in the slot, embraces any role.
“I think whenever my number’s called, (my role on offense) is to just make a play,” he said. “I’m getting different series, I start some different series and then (Carlton) Agudosi will start some series. So whenever I get in, I just try to be efficient and make my plays.”