RU?practice philosophy suits Jamison
Jawan Jamison was so antsy during recent practices that he would stand 10 yards behind any of the Rutgers football team’s running backs, listen to a play call and envision it in his head.
The process consumed the sophomore for the better part of three weeks, until he proclaimed himself fully healthy yesterday for the first time since injuring his right ankle Nov. 10 against Army.
“It was frustrating,” Jamison said. “I barely got any carries in two games because [the coaching staff] wants me to rest.”
Head coach Kyle Flood’s toned-down policy for veterans began during the Scarlet Knights’ two bye weeks and could resurface in the 12 practices remaining before their Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl matchup with Virginia Tech.
Selected veterans practiced for less than 90 minutes yesterday before meeting with strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Cole.
“I appreciate it a lot, especially at running back,” Jamison said of Flood’s philosophy. “They get hit every play. He helps us out tremendously, and it helps our bodies get recuperated.”
Jamison became the first Knight since 2007 to rush for more than 1,000 yards this season, but his ankle injury prevented him from inching closer to his preseason goal of 1,500 yards. He carried the ball only 28 times for 101 in the three games following the injury.
“I didn’t trust it as much as I do now,” Jamison said of his ankle. “It wasn’t healing fast like I wanted it to. Mentally it was messing with me because I was like, ‘I don’t want to hurt it again.’”
Flood will likely remain cautious with only the third 1,000-yard rusher in school history.
Jamison’s carries increased incrementally during the Knights’ three-game stretch, reaching as many as 15 on Nov. 29 against Louisville. He averaged nearly 24 rushes per game until that streak.
“I don’t know if he’s 100 percent, but I think he’s certainly more healthy than he was even in the Louisville game,” Flood said. “I think by the time the game comes, he will be 100 percent.”
Jamison insists he can take as many carries as possible now.
“But if somebody falls on me,” he said, “I can’t do anything about that.”
Despite playing sparingly on defense this season, Tejay Johnson could be in line to earn the most playing time of his career against the Hokies.
The redshirt freshman cornerback is one of several options for defensive coordinator Robb Smith, who faces the possibility of replacing injured senior Brandon Jones.
“We’re working some different people there, and as we get closer it could be moving [junior] Logan Ryan inside and letting [senior] Marcus Cooper and Tejay Johnson or [sophomore] Gareef Glashen play outside,” Flood said. “We’ll set the actual depth as we get a little bit closer to the game.”
At 6-foot-2, Johnson is the most likely candidate at corner to fill a potential void.
He earned an endorsement from Flood earlier in the season for his play on special teams, where Johnson racked up most of his 10 tackles this year. His frame could make moving Ryan into the slot a more viable alternative.
“I wasn’t happy about Brandon going down, but as the next guy going in, I have to be ready and prepared and willing to do the job,” Johnson said Saturday. “One play you could be the guy, and the next play you could be getting bombed up.”
Johnson offered words of encouragement to Jones following the Knights’ loss to Louisville when Jones suffered a lower-body injury. Johnson’s locker sits next to Jones’.
Johnson does not mind the potential for added responsibility.
“That’s what I live for: the opportunity to go out there in front of the big lights,” he said, “especially since I got thrown in the fire that Thursday.”
Flood announced redshirt freshman Marquise Wright and juniors Michael Larrow and Jeremy Deering began work yesterday at new positions. Only Deering, who will work at safety following Jones’ injury, has previous practice experience in his new role.
Wright and Larrow will switch sides of the ball to offensive line and tight end, respectively.
For updates on the Rutgers football team, follow Tyler Barto on Twitter @TBartoTargum.