If Evan Royster could do it all over again, do you think he would? Royster turned down millions in the NFL to return for his senior season at Penn State. A big reason for that decision was the fact that he was just 481 yards shy of breaking the school’s career rushing record held by College Football Hall of Famer, Curt Warner.
This year was supposed to be a celebratory swan song for one of the greatest football players in Penn State history. Instead, it’s turning into a never-ending nightmare.
Royster will most likely break the record this weekend at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have the worst rush defense in the Big Ten and are an absolute mess right now after firing head coach Tim Brewster following their sixth straight loss. All he needs is 93 yards, which seems like a given, but not this year.
Royster has only cracked the century mark once this season against Temple (career-high 187 yards on 26 carries) and sadly leads the team in rushing with just 388 yards after six games. If you take the Temple game out of the equation, he’s broken the 50-yard barrier only once and has rushed for 40 yards or less in four his first six games.
Royster has taken a lot of heat through the first half of the season from fans and media. They questioned his desire, work ethic and playing weight. He’s missed post-game press conferences after sub-par performances and is not even a team captain this year.
His stats have been marred by an extremely poor offensive line and a true freshman quarterback who is still learning on the job. Teams are throwing eight guys in the box to shut him down and are making the Nittany Lions beat them through the air, which hasn’t happened. He’s had very few holes to run through and has been splitting time with backups Stephfon Green and Silas Redd.
It’s just a matter of time before that record falls. Instead of celebrating this milestone in front of the 110,000 people at Beaver Stadium, it will likely go, for the most part, unnoticed in Minneapolis.
This season, so far, has been one to forget for both Royster and Penn State. At 3-3, the Nittany Lions are threatening to miss a bowl game and Royster’s draft status continues to plummet.
Maybe Royster would have been better off leaving early for the NFL. Truth is, even with the record, most fans still won’t consider him one of the top five running backs of all-time. They would point to guys like Curtis Enis, Curt Warner, Blair Thomas, Kijana Carter and Larry Johnson before mentioning his name. Royster isn’t a flashy guy. He racked up his yards quietly and shared the spotlight with guys like Derrick Williams and Daryll Clark.
Royster definitely earned his spot on the career rushing list. It’s just a shame it will happen, most likely, on the road during an extremely disappointing season for the Nittany Lions and one of their all-time greatest running backs.
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