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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Proving it in Piscataway (No. 2 — Rutgers' Paul James)

(AP photo)
By Tyler Barto
Twitter: @Tyler_Barto

Less than a week remains until the start of Rutgers training camp. This top-25 countdown will run infrequently, documenting who's got the most to prove in 2014.

No. 2 — RB Paul James (6-foot, 205 pounds)

Why James is on the list: Despite the Big Ten style that Rutgers' talented workhorse embraces, James has yet to prove he can remain healthy for an extended period.

A lower-body injury dodged James for four games and reduced his effectiveness in others. 

Before leaving the fourth game of the season, James averaged 3 yards more after contact than his replacement.

Shoulder surgery cost him the spring. A productive Big Ten season relies on James's frame.

During training camp, keep an eye on: how offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen divvies up carries during live periods.

Rutgers thinks it has three quality backs in James, Desmon Peoples and Justin Goodwin, who also missed extended time this spring. Savon Huggins is out for the time being.

2014 outlook: James's 200-pound frame appears perfectly suited for the Big Ten, but his vision and patience often go unnoticed.

With Rutgers' starting offensive line intact, James could be among the conference's best — if healthy.

More from the countdown: No. 1 
Gary Nova
No. 3 — Nadir Barnwell

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