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February 8, 2013

1-on-1 with Dontea Ayres

Running back Dontea Ayres is one of five members of the class of 2013 already enrolled and on campus at Rutgers. The Maryland native spoke at-length with Scarlet Nation this week regarding his return from a knee injury, how he fits into the picture at running back, and how being at Rutgers early can benefit him

Matt Hladik: You had a whole fall away from playing football while you were recovering from your knee injury. How excited are you to get back into the swing of things and get back to the game?

Dontea Ayres: It's exciting. I'm very focused and I'm hungry right now. I'm ready to compete, I'm ready to get after it and I'm ready to better myself from the day before.

MH: What is it like for you with the running back situation the way it is? Savon [Huggins] is the starter but there's a lot of guys behind him that are competing for reps. You can get right into the thick of things. How does that make you feel to step into that opportunity?

DA: It gives me a lot more confidence. Before, I had the same mentality when Jamison was here and I committed. I was going to come in, I was going to compete, I was going to get my shot, and ultimately, I was going to have an early impact. That's the same focus I have now. That's the focus I'm going to keep. It's great that Jamison left, but at the same time, I was looking forward to having him stay so I can learn from him, because steel sharpens steel, and I really believe that.

MH: Within this group of running backs, what do you bring to the table as a runner? What is kind of your unique skill set?

DA: I have really good size. Other running backs say they have good size too, but I think what I bring to the table is I'm a very hard-nosed runner. Very explosive, with a lot more patience than most.

MH: Having watched Rutgers' offense during the year--obviously it may change a little bit with a new offensive coordinator--but did you kind of feel 'Okay, this scheme fits what I want to do?'

DA: Yes. I'm the type of back that I can physically handle getting 20, 30, and even 40 carries a game. With this type of offense, there's a lot of inside zone and outside zone plays and I feel I do exceptionally well with that. Making my own reads, having patience and at the drop of a dime exploding through the hole and hitting the hole as hard as possible.

MH: What is your schedule like now heading into spring ball?

DA: Right now, all my classes are in the afternoon and late evening. All my training sessions are in the morning. I get my training session done in the morning, I go to breakfast, I come back and get an extra lift with fullback Mike Burton. After that, I do some more rehab for my knee. So I'm training two or three times a day, then I'm clocking my extra study hall hours because on and off the field I take pride in everything I do.

MH: What is it like lifting with Mike [Burton]? He's got to be one of the strongest guys on the team.

DA: He's one of the strongest guys but at the same time he's one of the hardest workers. I feel like to elevate my game, I need to surround myself around those guys that day in and day out, they're going to give their all and more. I feel like if I surround myself with Burton, it's going to be benefit me more. He's going to push me harder.

MH: [Former RU safety] Wayne Warren went to Wicomico High School as well. I know you guys are good friends. What has he had to say to you as you've gotten on campus?

DA: Wayne filled me in on what I should expect throughout my years here. But the biggest thing Wayne told me is to stay focused, stay hungry and stay humble and that everything is going to come to you. Don't try to force things. Just let things come to you. Just give it your all and things are going to happen.

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