Rookies Benson And Brown Are Ready For The NFL And The Rickey Comparisons

By Tony McClean
Updated: April 27, 2005

Ronnie Brown, left, with Coach Lou Saban

NEW YORK — No matter what rookie running backs Ronnie Brown or Cedric Benson do for their respective teams this year, there will be one thing that probably will be a constant and somewhat nagging sidelight.

The name and aura of one Rickey Williams.

Brown, the second pick overall for the Dolphins, will likely become Miami’s new feature back for 2005. He more than has the credentials for the job. In 2004 for Auburn, Brown started seven games as he totaled 913 yards on 153 carries (6.0 avg.) and scored eight times. He also ranked second on the team with 34 catches for 313 yards (9.2 avg.) and a touchdown.

Despite starting only 21 of 47 games for the Tigers, Brown finished his career ranked No. 7 in school history with 2,707 yards rushing and an average of 5.28 yards per carry. He ranks No. 5 in school annals with 28 rushing touchdowns and carried the ball 513 times.

Brown also had 58 receptions for 668 yards (11.5 avg.) and two scores, adding 15 yards on a kickoff return. His 180 points scored tied for No. 8 on Auburn’s all-time record list.

He’s well aware of the scrutiny he’ll be facing when he gets down to South Beach. “I’m pretty familiar with the situation as far as the way things were introduced to the media,” Brown added.

“So I don’t think that will be a determining factor as how well I’ll do in Miami, so I try not to worry about that”.

Once Williams announced his retirement shortly before training camp last summer, it seems that the Fish never really never had a chance to catch up. Other injuries, plus a quarterback shuffle between Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feeley led to a 4-12 season in Miami.

Dolphin head coach Nick Saban faced Brown last season while coaching at LSU. He also knows the scrutiny that the Auburn standout will be under. But he adds that Brown should be a perfect fit for the Fish.

“There was not a player that we ever competed against that our players had more respect for than Ronnie Brown”, Saban said. “He’s certainly the type of player that we want, and certainly the type of physical, relentless kind of competitor that we want”.

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER As a senior, Texas’ Cedric Benson was the winner of the 2004 Doak Walker Award and Cingular ABC Sports All-America Player of the Year Award. He was a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award and earned first-team All-America honors from ESPN and Sports Illustrated .

Benson was also a unanimous first-team All-Big Twelve selection and earned conference Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors from the Austin-American Statesman . He started all year, rushing for 1,834 yards (No. 3 on the Texas single-season list) and 19 touchdowns (No. 4 on the Texas single-season list), while catching 22 passes for 179 yards.

While Benson was highly regarded entering the draft, he admits that the whole process began to wear on him early on. “People tell you they like you, they want you to play for their team, but it’s not what they really mean or what they say”, Benson added.

“Now that the process is all over, I’m just glad that I can move on to football now”.

Benson added that he doesn’t feel any pressure coming to a franchise that has had it’s share of Hall of Fame running backs. Walter Payton and Gale Sayers just to name a few. “This isn’t pressure to me,” Benson said.

“I’ve been in this situation millions and millions of times before. This is fun to me. This is ‘I can’t wait to do it’ to me and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t have any pressure on me at all. Pressure is going into Iraq. That’s pressure right there.”

FINAL ANALYSIS While Alex Smith and Maurice Clarett got all the media hype after day one of the draft, you get the feeling that when pundits look back on the 2005 class, it will be remembered as the Brown and Benson draft.

Not to mention, with a Cadillac (Williams) thrown on the side.