Coming into the 2011 season, there wasn't a Rutgers tailback with a firm hold on the starting position. Midway through the 2011 season, that seems to have changed. Redshirt freshman Jawan Jamison has put together a solid body of work through six games to earn his place as Rutgers' starting tailback.
"The running game is getting going," said Jamison, who has rushed for 344 yards in five games this season. "We've been working and working and working and it's finally getting going now."
Things were going well in the spring for Jamison, who had one of the best spring practices of any offensive player. But a tweaked hamstring held him out for the first part of training camp as Jamison took a backseat in the race for a starting spot.
"I was real confident after the spring then I got hurt the first week and I got down a little bit," Jamison said. "When I came back, I had a good scrimmage in the second scrimmage and started to get it going and get my confidence back."
That confidence continued to build and enabled Jamison to cross the 100-yard rushing mark last week against Navy. It was the first 100-yard rushing performance by a Scarlet Knight since Jordan Thomas ran for 120 yards last Nov. 26th in a 40-13 loss to Louisville.
Even more impressive than surpassing the 100-yard plateau is the way Jamison has shown marked improvement each week.
"I think it all ties together with his vision and good foot quickness," said head coach Greg Schiano. "He sees things that most people don't see and he sees them in a split second. So then he makes a move which allows you not to get directly hit. Because when you get directly hit, usually you go backwards. But he just sees things right in a split second and kind of jumps. So he gets hit, but he kind of gets hit on the side so he falls forward."
Since the spring, Jamison has proven to have good vision for a running back but now he is taking it one step farther.
"Vision is one thing but setting your blocks up and getting your linemen and everybody to flow to the right position so you can cut back, that's another thing," Jamison said.
Jamison has also quickly become a workhorse, carrying more than 20 times in each of the last four games.
"As the game goes on, you always get into a rhythm," said Jamison. "The first couple of carries you're just getting the feel for the linebackers and seeing how they flow and see how the defense flows. And then once you got it, things just get going and it's good."
Jamison said that his highest total of carries at the high school level was around 15 due to the many lopsided scores his Bolles High team racked up in a hurry. However, he is enjoying toting the pigskin an average of 22.6 times per game this season.
"I'm liking it because the more carries I get, the more comfortable I get back there. The more I can sit back there and look and determine where I'm going to go and where everybody is going to go and try to set up my blocks."
Tomorrow night, Jamison will try to set up those blocks against the Big East's second-ranked Louisville defense. It is a unit that will be much tougher than the Navy defense Jamison wore down for 101 yards last weekend.
"Now the challenge is to put that behind you and have another good game against a defense that I think is going to be better suited to stop our package," said Schiano.