Top 5 Reasons Why I’ll Miss Evan Royster
Even if it’s not Joe Paterno’s last game, the Outback Bowl will mark the end of a more than a few Penn State football careers.
Graham Zug–namesake to the HUB’s delicious zuggets–will be moving on from Happy Valley, leaving at least one Onward State technology manager saddened I’m sure. Scholar and gentleman Stefen Wisniewski is also graduating, likely bringing down the football team’s average GPA a few points. New Yorker Ollie Ogbu is moving on as well, reducing Penn State’s overall swagger by at least 20%.
But that’s the way it is. Seniors have to graduate just like fish have to swim (turns out the NCAA doesn’t really accept the “super-senior” designation with the same aplomb as the rest of the Penn State community).
There’s one Penn State football player whose departure I am dreading, though. He’s far and away my favorite athlete on the team. Here are the top five reasons why I’ll miss running back Evan Royster.
5. When you get down to it, Royster’s just a sweet lax bro.
I know a thing or two about lax culture, even if I’m a regular John Smith when it comes to playing the Native American-derived pursuit. Four years into Royster’s Penn State career, we often forget that though our star running back stood out on his high school football team (he was Rivals’ #26 running back recruit in 2006), he had a truly singular presence on the lacrosse field. Royster’s high school lacrosse coach told the New York Times that the Virginian was “the best player in the country his senior year–no question.” He was recruited by powerhouse programs at the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University. There’s little doubt in my mind that Royster would probably have had more fun in college being a lacrosse superstar than a player in Joe Paterno’s program, but it was to Penn State’s great advantage that Royster’s true love is football.
4. He’s got a great perspective on what his athletic success means in the long run.
After tomorrow’s Outback Bowl, Evan Royster’s next step will likely be to enter the NFL draft. He’s definitely good enough. But unlike a lot of collegiate athletes, Royster understands that professional sports aren’t a career pursuit for most people who end up there. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review earlier this year, Royster explained:
Even if I go to the NFL, after that I am still going to get a regular job and be working. I have always wanted to be my own boss and maybe start my own company.
He has worked hard academically these past few years. With a degree in management information systems, Royster definitely has the skills to succeed in the business world. I can’t wait to come back to Penn State in 30 years and walk by the Royster Industries box in Beaver Stadium.
2. He handled criticism this fall gracefully.
Evan Royster returned to Happy Valley this fall a bit heavier than when he left, and Joe Paterno spared no words letting the running back (and the rest of the Penn State community) know his displeasure. Royster explained recently that the legendary coach was “[a] little bit nicer to me when he was recruiting me.” His first couple performances of the season were decidedly lackluster. Royster also got passed over when the team chose its captains for the season. But rather than letting the criticism get inside his head, Royster used it as motivation. And given the crucial role he has played for the team this season, I’m very grateful that he didn’t cut and run or otherwise disengage from the program in the face of adversity.
1. He’s an excellent football player.
During Penn State’s 10/30 game against the University of Michigan, Evan Royster broke the university’s all-time career rushing record, surpassing Hall of Famer Curt Warner’s record with a 20-yard gain. His performance that night even earned him a spot on Twitter’s trending topics. ESPN’s Bruce Feldman has called him one of the most underrated football players in America. He needs just 84 yards tomorrow to do something no other Penn State football player has done–rush more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. I know I’ll be cheering him on… how about you?
For more insight into the Evan Royster story, check out the video Penn State athletics produced after he broke the all-time career rushing record:
Who will you miss most next year? Let me know in the comments.