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March 27, 2013

Jones, Johnson leave mark on RMU

What started out as the Sensational Six ended up as the Dynamic Duo.

Velton Jones and Russell Johnson are all that remain standing from Mike Rice's largest recruiting class. They were the ones who lasted the longest at RMU, lingering three years after Rice left for Rutgers, rewriting the record books in the process.

Rice's 2008 recruiting class was a monster. Yet it never went according to plan. Jones and Johnson sat out a year to focus on academics. Brandon Greene and Jason Burns never played a game for the Colonials. Only Rob Robinson and Josiah Whitehead made an immediate impact out of the 6-man class, and while the two junior college transfers helped Robert Morris capture two Northeast Conference titles, they weren't around long enough to create a lasting impact.

Jones and Johnson were, and their names will be all over the school record book. Their impact on the current team has been well-documented. Johnson struggled with inconsistency his first three years, then struggled with injuries. But his last 20 games were among his best ever as a Robert Morris player. Jones was the opposite, jumping into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman before instantly becoming a leader as a sophomore in Andy Toole's first year. By the end, he was the unquestioned heart-and-soul of the team, even if a concussion and shoulder injuries robbed him of some playing time down the stretch in his final season.

But just where do they fit into the annals of the all-time greats? ColonialsCorner went through their stats and looked at their rankings among RMU's best.

RUSSELL JOHNSON VELTON JONES
GAMES 129 (4th) 135 (1st)
STARTS 55 (NR) 125 (1st)
MINUTES 3,300 (11th) 3,686 (3rd)
WINS 91 (1st) 91 (1st)
POINTS 1,208 (15th) 1,588 (5th)
FIELD GOALS MADE 424 (14th) 469 (10th)
FIELD GOALS ATT. 1060 (11th) 1258 (7th)
3PT FG MADE 133 (NR) 155 (9th)
3PT FG ATT. 395 (NR) 484 (7th)
FREE THROWS MADE 227 (18th) 493 (1st)
FREE THROWS ATT. 324 (19th) 688 (1st)
REBOUNDS 746 (2nd) 325 (NR)
ASSISTS 192 (NR) 551 (2nd)
BLOCKS 72 (6th) 3 (NR)
STEALS 159 (10th) 220 (6th)

In short, it'd be hard to leave Johnson off the all-time 13-man roster, and Jones might go down as one of the greatest ever to put on a Robert Morris uniform.

ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at achiappazzi@yahoo.com.

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