For the record, Dallas Cowboys running back Jamize Olawale _ an undrafted free agent from North Texas _ pronounces his name this way: juh-MAZE oh-lah-WALL-ee. It probably is a name that Cowboys’ fans should begin learning to recognize, and pronounce, as the 2012 season unfolds.
Olwawale (6-foot-1, 238 pounds) arrived in camp targeted to be a possible backup to starting fullback Lawrence Vickers. But the broken hand of Phillip Tanner, the projected No. 3 running back heading into camp, an opportunity for extra carries and Olawale has led the team in rushing in both pre-season games. He scored the team’s first touchdown in Saturday’s 28-20 loss to San Diego on a powerful, 2-yard run between the tackles.
A receiver in college, he also caught four passes for 30 yards against the Chargers and has the size and skills to be an effective blocker.
Olawale’s emergence contributed to Friday’s release of former TCU running back Ed Wesley, who had struggled in camp, before Wesley ever touched the ball in a pre-season game. Olawale’s versatility will make it hard for coaches to drop him from the team’s 53-man roster if he continues to perform the way he has in Dallas’ first two pre-season games and in training camp practices.
“He really has (stepped up) throughout training camp,” said coach Jason Garrett. “He came in more as a fullback candidate, but has also shown that he can be a big back. He’s played a lot as a halfback. He’s played in third-down situations. He’s really done some positive things running the football for us.”
“They’re giving me a fair shot,” said Olawale, who declared it “nice to get my first NFL touchdown” against the Chargers. “I feel like I was able to slow things down a little bit (in his mind). Everything’s still moving fast … I’m here to play where they want me to play. I try to be a team player and help them win however I can. Obviously, we didn’t do that (against San Diego). I fee like I failed in that aspect.”
Of course, the bottom line for pre-season games is about player evaluations more than wins and losses. And Olawale’s stock is rising with Cowboys’ coaches. Fans might want to learn to pronounce his name. Just in case.
_ Jimmy Burch