- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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The comparisons aren't lost on Jawan Jamison, though he knows the season is still young.
Rutgers is undefeated through the early part of its schedule, thanks in large part to a workhorse running back on a record-setting tear. So yes, of course, it's easy to draw on the Scarlet Knights' famed 2006 outfit as a blueprint for this year's squad.
Thus, the Ray Rice analogies have been coming at Jamison from all angles.
"Oh man, it feels good," Jamison told ESPN.com of being compared to the NFL's second-leading rusher from a year ago. "It's a big confidence boost, and that's what I pride myself off of. Confidence builds me up and gets me going."
At 4-0, Rutgers is ranked 22nd in the country. Jamison is rushing for 122.75 yards per game, good for eighth nationally. His 102 carries are the ninth-most among FBS players. Only three players are averaging more than his 25.5 carries per game.
Jamison's 41 carries in a Week 3 victory at South Florida broke a nearly 40-year-old school record, held by JJ Jennings. He is the first Rutgers player to eclipse the 100-yard mark in the first four games of a season since 2006, when Rice did it in his first five games. Jamison is on a five-game 100-yard streak of his own, dating back to last season.
In leading the Scarlet Knights to an 11-2 mark six years ago, Rice carried the ball 25.7 times per game, averaging 138 yards per game.
"I talked to him actually during the spring game," Jamison said of Rice. "He talked to me, gave me a little bit of advice, told me to stay humble, stay grounded, keep doing what I'm doing -- [that] my name's out there with everybody, and just build on what I've got going on."
Jamison credited strength-and-conditioning coach Jeremy Cole with helping him this offseason to prepare for the added carries, and he said he looks forward to getting back to the usual workload following his team's bye last week.
The redshirt sophomore finished 2011 with 897 rushing yards, and he entered this season saying that a 1,000-yard campaign would be just a start.
Currently on pace for 1,473 rushing yards this season, Jamison now says that 1,500 yards is his goal, a number he counts down to after every game. Only two Rutgers running backs have had 1,000-yard seasons since 1975, with Rice most recently doing it in 2005-07.
For now, Jamison is hoping his team's next effort is better than its last.
"Just being consistent," Jamison said. "Being consistent with our throwing game and our running game and our defense, that's what we're working on: consistency. It's a one-game season, we're taking each game one at a time, one week at a time. We're not looking ahead to the future. We're just staying focused on that one game."
The comparisons aren't lost on Jawan Jamison, though he knows the season is still young.Rutgers is undefeated through the early part of its schedule, thanks in large part to a workhorse running back on a record-setting tear.