Ray Rice has been reincarnated, and his name is now Jawan Jamison.
There are more similarities between Rice and Jamison than just their alma mater. Jamison (5’8”, 200) is nearly identical in size to Rice (5’9”, 195), and they share similar running styles.
An ability to make something out of nothing was key for Jamison rushing for 1,075 yards last season. Rutgers’ offensive line was shaky at best, and the shakiness of Jamison was on full display the majority of the year.
For Jamison, his game includes more than just Rice-like quickness in holes with the ability to rattle off 15 yards when it appeared he would be stopped for a loss—he is also keen on pass-blocking.
A running back who is willing and able to chip pass-rushing linebackers and safeties is a major asset to have. NFL teams without at least a decent pass-blocking running back wish they had one and are always searching for a back who can do it.
But enough about pass-blocking. This kid is a running back first, and an underrated one at that.
His physical strength, awareness and never-give-up mentality were made apparent in one clip from the 2012 season, and it came against Arkansas. Late in the game and clinging to a nine-point lead, the Scarlet Knights turned to Jamison on a 3rd-and-6 play from the Razorbacks’ 45-yard line.
Jamison was handed the ball by Knights quarterback Gary Nova on an off-tackle play to the short side of the field. After cutting up the field behind a wall of Rutgers blockers, he encountered 6’3”, 232-pound Arkansas senior linebacker Terrell Williams.
Being outweighed by over 30 pounds was no issue for Jamison, as he ran right through Williams, sending the two-time varsity letterman to his backside.
But the play was not over. Jamison immediately encountered both Razorbacks safeties, Rohan Gaines (5’11”, 190) and Ross Rasner (6’0”, 212) as he put Williams to the turf.
They sandwiched the back, but somehow Jamison broke free from their grasp, gaining seven yards to pick up the first down.
In one play, we were able to see everything Jamison is as a runner. His vision, agility and quickness led him from a mass of humanity into a small and shrinking lane. His raw power helped him continue the play by removing a bigger, stronger man from his way. His sheer will to lead his team to victory pushed him through four arms and carried him across the first-down marker and out of bounds, all but sealing a big victory.
And he did all that in one play during a clutch moment when failure was not an option.
Sign me up for 16 games of that every season.
We can expect the team to re-sign free agent LaRod Stephens-Howling at some point this offseason. But the sketchy past of Arizona’s top two backs leads me to believe they may draft a guy.
This mid- to late-round option could be a budding star in a season or two.