LAWRENCE — Less than a month ago, junior college transfer running back Rhamondre Stevenson said he likes to base his game off of retired Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch, a five-time Pro-Bowler and a Super Bowl champion, is notorious for his bruising runs and ability to stay on his feet after tackles. Coming out of Cerritos College, Stevenson has had to wait his turn to show this, with Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks as the two poster boys for the Sooner running back unit.
With Brooks being rested and not making the trip to the No. 6 Sooners' (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) 45-20 win over the Jayhawks (2-4, 0-3 Big 12), the opportunity came. The newcomer rushed for 109 yards on five carries, and scored his fifth touchdown of the season.
"He runs hard, just like Marshawn Lynch," said Sermon, who rushed for 71 yards while accounting for two touchdowns himself. "He always keeps his legs going and that's how he's just able to stay up while guys just bounce off of him."
Stevenson now has 320 rushing yards on the season, but comparisons to Beast Mode? The thought would seem outlandish for a player who's played FBS football for just five games. But his running on Kivisto Field Saturday makes it hard not to see the comparisons.
In the third quarter, Stevenson ran through three blue jerseys after being unfazed by a Jayhawk defender's attempt to bring him down on first contact, and continued for 35 yards in his second-longest rushing attempt.
His longest run was a 61-yard touchdown that saw him drop his shoulder on a Kansas defender, knocking him backward after juking two others. The transfer turned on the jets for the latter half of run after everyone was behind him.
"He's a heck of a player," senior quarterback Jalen Hurts said. "He makes plays. He's hard to tackle. I'm happy he got the opportunity to be him."
Stevenson showed attributes that show up in Sermon and Brooks' styles. Sermon is the brute of the duo that makes openings rather than finding them, and invites contact. Brooks is a shifty back whose patience allows him to find gaps. Lynch is known for his long and dazzling runs that feature both aspects. Stevenson showed all of it as well on Saturday.
With Brooks out, Stevenson got to fill in and introduce himself a dominant member of Oklahoma's running back squad.
"I just expected my number to be called," Stevenson said, "and when it was called, I had to go in and do my thing."