Friday, February 25, 2011
Posted: 5:03 p.m.
By Reuben Frank
INDIANAPOLIS Evan Royster knows the biggest knock on him is that hes just not fast enough to be a big-time NFL running back.
He also believes a Penn State-record 3,932 rushing yards means just a little bit more than his 40 time.
I trust that the scouts and coaches out there know what kind of player I am, Royster said Friday afternoon at the NFL Scouting Combine. Thats what those guys get paid for. There are definitely a lot of things (other than 40 time) that go into what kind of player you are.
Its not that Royster is slow. But hes not going to run a 4.2 or 4.3 when the running backs sprint here at Lucas Oil Stadium. Then again, 2010 NFL rushing leader Arian Foster ran 4.73 at his Pro Day. You never know.
Its not like Im going to come out here and run a 4.7 or something like that, Royster said. I dont really know what to expect out of my 40. Id like to get in the low 4.5s or high 4.4s.
Roysters 3,932 rushing yards broke the school record of 3,398 yards set from 1979 through 1982 by Curt Warner.
That was very big for me, Royster said. To be at the top of the list, a list with some very good running backs on it, that was really a big deal for me. Thats something I can tell people every day.
Depending how things go at the Combine, Royster could be drafted anywhere from the end of the second round to early in the fourth. But you cant argue with the production. Hes the only back in Penn State history with three 1,000-yard seasons, and he produced despite having to share time in Joe Paternos rotation something that wasnt easy for him to get used to.
Rotating was definitely tough at times, but it does help the team because it keeps defenses off-balance, Royster said. But it did take some getting used to. Im a back that in high school and at times in college, I need to get into a rhythm, and thats not always easy to do when youre rotating. But if it helped us win, it was fine with me.
Penn State football history is full of terrific college tailbacks who struggled at the next level. Ki-Jana Carter was the first pick in 1995, Blair Thomas was the second pick in 1990, Curtis Enis was the fifth pick in 1998 and D.J Dozier was the 14th pick in 1987. All were busts.
Eagles fans remember Tony Hunt, a third-round pick in 2007 who was out of the league after just 14 carries.
There have been some pretty good ones, too, like Franco Harris and Larry Johnson. But the reputation is out there that Penn State backs wont make good pros.
Pure coincidence, Royster said. I dont think it means anything. Im sure you could pick out any school and find some guys that didnt perform in the NFL. Im out to prove that it is a coincidence and that Im not going to be one of those guys.
Royster finished his career in State College with 32 touchdowns and 15 100-yard games all of them Penn State wins.
He said one challenge facing him this week is proving he has the mentality to be an NFL player. Royster is a soft-spoken, quiet kid off the field, and he said he needs to prove in the interview process this week that he has the personality to succeed as a professional.
A lot of people question my desire, he said. Thats crazy. I think I play with a lot of desire. I think the coaches and scouts will see that.
Royster said he often hears comparisons with Bears running back Matt Forte, another tailback without blazing speed he ran a 4.59 at the 2008 Combine and he said hell be glad to become a player like Forte.
If I can turn myself into that guy, that would be great, he said. Thats the goal.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org