Record all Royster’s at Penn State

Colin Becht

In 2008, Evan Royster finished eighth in the NCAA in yards per carry among rushers with more than 100 carries, gaining 6.5 yards each time he was given the ball. That total was better than Iowa’s Shonn Green, Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, and Pittsburgh’s LeSean McCoy, all of whom now start in the NFL.

That would make last year’s season somewhat of an off year for Royster. He only averaged 5.7 yards per carry, still best in the Big Ten, and his 89.9 yards per game were good enough for second in the conference.

So why then is Royster a bit of an afterthought behind Wisconsin’s John Clay as the Big Ten’s elite back?

“To tell you the truth, we’re kind of boring running backs, we don’t do that many flashy things, the spin moves and all that stuff,” Royster said. “You don’t catch us too much on the ESPN highlights. We’re doing just basic things. We do it because it works. You don’t need to do all the extra stuff.”

Despite Royster’s insistence on a simple ground game, coach Pat Fitzgerald said that Royster is certainly capable of dazzling with fancy moves when needed. This season, Royster has rushed for 600 yards and four touchdowns in eight games.

“With Evan, very rarely do I see the first back take him down,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s a guy that runs with great power behind his pads. He has a great little spin move, he has a great stiff-arm and he’s good with protection.”

That spotlight found Royster as he became Penn State’s all-time leading rusher, breaking Curt Warner’s record of 3,398 career yards. That mark had stood for 28 years before Royster snapped it against Michigan last week.

“To be the all-time leading rusher in Penn State history is a statement with an exclamation point,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t know if we’ve faced any backs that can prepare us for him.”

Still, Royster said it’s not as big of a deal as others may make it out to be.

“It doesn’t really change much,” he said. “It’s kind of just there.”

More important than breaking the record to Royster is being in the company of Penn State’s elite backs like Warner and Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti.

“The history that’s come through this school all together is unbelievable,” he said. “It’s something that definitely attracted me to the school.”

Northwestern played a small part helping Royster reach the record books. In his only career game against the Wildcats, Royster amassed 118 yards on 15 carries last season in the Nittany Lions’ 34-13 win.

“He’s a good runner,” senior linebacker Quentin Davie said. “He spins off tackles and breaks tackles.” Davie will be a central part of the linebacker crew assigned to shut down Royster on Saturday in Happy Valley.

Another reason Royster may not stand out as much as some of his counterparts is that unlike the speed of Oregon’s LaMichael James or the strength of Clay, it’s harder to define the core element of Royster’s success.

Royster said that he cares less about having one memorable feature to stand out as he does “trying to make myself an all-around tailback.”

“I try and work on everything equally,” Royster said. “I’m not trying to focus on one thing.”

In 2008, Evan Royster finished eighth in the NCAA in yards per carry among rushers with more than 100 carries, gaining 6.5 yards each time he was given the ball. That total was better than Iowa’s Shonn Green, Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno, and Pittsburgh’s LeSean McCoy, all of whom now start in the NFL.

That would make last year’s season somewhat of an off year for Royster. He only averaged 5.7 yards per carry, still best in the Big Ten, and his 89.9 yards per game were good enough for second in the conference.

So why then is Royster a bit of an afterthought behind Wisconsin’s John Clay as the Big Ten’s elite back?

“To tell you the truth, we’re kind of boring running backs, we don’t do that many flashy things, the spin moves and all that stuff,” Royster said. “You don’t catch us too much on the ESPN highlights. We’re doing just basic things. We do it because it works. You don’t need to do all the extra stuff.”

Despite Royster’s insistence on a simple ground game, coach Pat Fitzgerald said that Royster is certainly capable of dazzling with fancy moves when needed. This season, Royster has rushed for 600 yards and four touchdowns in eight games.

“With Evan, very rarely do I see the first back take him down,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s a guy that runs with great power behind his pads. He has a great little spin move, he has a great stiff-arm and he’s good with protection.”

That spotlight found Royster as he became Penn State’s all-time leading rusher, breaking Curt Warner’s record of 3,398 career yards. That mark had stood for 28 years before Royster snapped it against Michigan last week.

“To be the all-time leading rusher in Penn State history is a statement with an exclamation point,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t know if we’ve faced any backs that can prepare us for him.”

Still, Royster said it’s not as big of a deal as others may make it out to be.

“It doesn’t really change much,” he said. “It’s kind of just there.”

More important than breaking the record to Royster is being in the company of Penn State’s elite backs like Warner and Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti.

“The history that’s come through this school all together is unbelievable,” he said. “It’s something that definitely attracted me to the school.”

Northwestern played a small part helping Royster reach the record books. In his only career game against the Wildcats, Royster amassed 118 yards on 15 carries last season in the Nittany Lions’ 34-13 win.

“He’s a good runner,” senior linebacker Quentin Davie said. “He spins off tackles and breaks tackles.” Davie will be a central part of the linebacker crew assigned to shut down Royster on Saturday in Happy Valley.

Another reason Royster may not stand out as much as some of his counterparts is that unlike the speed of Oregon’s LaMichael James or the strength of Clay, it’s harder to define the core element of Royster’s success.

Royster said that he cares less about having one memorable feature to stand out as he does “trying to make myself an all-around tailback.”

“I try and work on everything equally,” Royster said. “I’m not trying to focus on one thing.”

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