PSU's Royster believes he will be a successful pro


PSU's Royster believes he will be a successful pro

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

After beating Ohio State, Penn State ranked for 1st time since 2011

After beating Ohio State, Penn State ranked for 1st time since 2011

After its signature win over Ohio State on Saturday night, Penn State finds itself ranked for the first time since 2011.

The Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) are ranked No. 24 in the latest AP poll. The Lions stunned the Buckeyes, 24-21, on Saturday in a White Out at Beaver Stadium (see game story).

With the loss, Ohio State drops from No. 2 in the country to No. 6 (see full poll).

While head coach James Franklin sidestepped the signature win question after the game (see story), there is no question the Ohio State win is one that has been lacking in the Franklin era at State College. Even junior cornerback Grant Haley, who scored the go-ahead, 60-yard touchdown off a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter, believes it was much-needed too.

“It’s just a game that put Penn State back on the map," Haley said. "We needed that signature win, and we did it tonight."

Penn State heads to Purdue next Saturday for a noon kickoff against the Boilermakers.

Penn State's signature win over Ohio State has it feeling it's back on map

Penn State's signature win over Ohio State has it feeling it's back on map

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – In another day and time, the late John Facenda — the voice of NFL Films and the very “Voice of God,” as he came to be known — described Marcus Allen “running with the night” while scoring a particularly memorable touchdown for the Raiders in a Super Bowl victory over Washington.

On Saturday, another Marcus Allen went soaring into the night, not to mention Penn State lore.

A blocked field goal by the Nittany Lions’ junior safety resulted in a go-ahead 60-yard TD return by teammate Grant Haley, as PSU upset No. 2 Ohio State in Beaver Stadium, 24-21 (see story). That led to the team’s fans, dressed appropriately for a White Out, to storm the field, and led to the kind of emotions that hadn’t been felt on campus in a long, long time.

“This is for everybody,” coach James Franklin said.

The Langhorne native talked about the game being “a big step in the right direction” as far as healing a community wounded by the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal. He talked, with tears in his eyes, about the death of his brother-in-law four days earlier.

Yet he didn’t wish to discuss whether it was the kind of signature victory he needed to propel the program back toward prominence (or, for that matter, ensure his job security).

“That’s for you (media) guys, all that signature stuff,” he said, adding that he “didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the big picture.”

Rather, he said, “I just want to enjoy tonight.”

Understandable, since the Lions, 5-2 after their third straight victory this season, beat a ranked team for the first time since 2013 (No. 14 Wisconsin), beat a team ranked in the top five for the first time since 1999 (No. 4 Arizona) and earned a victory over their highest-ranked opponent since knocking off No. 1 Notre Dame in 1990.

PSU also snapped a 20-game road winning streak on the part of the Buckeyes (7-1). Seventeen of those victories had come in Big Ten play.

Few people saw it coming, though middle linebacker Jason Cabinda said that amid a sleepless Friday night at the team hotel, he and his roommate, fellow ‘backer Manny Bowen, allowed themselves to dream.

“We were just talking about how great it would be to pull this off,” he said, “and how we believed we could pull this off, and how it would be like writing history.”

It was already etched upon the pages of Brandon Bell’s mind.

“This was no fluke,” the senior linebacker said. “This is what we train for. This is what we go out there and play for. Obviously everybody is (saying) we shocked the world, but this is what you expect. Or what I expect.”

Bell, playing for the first time since the season’s second week because of a leg injury, had a career-high 19 tackles and one of his team’s six sacks. Cabinda, playing for the first time since the opener because of a hand injury, had 12 tackles and a sack of his own. Bowen added 11 stops, and defensive end Garrett Sickels, suspended for the first half for violating a team rule, had career highs of nine tackles, 3½ tackles for loss and 2½ sacks.

“Maybe,” Franklin said, “I should suspend him for the first half for the season.”

With Cabinda and Bell back, the Lions were more aggressive on defense than they had been, more varied. Yet the game seemed to be getting away from them when Ohio State built a 21-7 lead through three quarters.

J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes’ splendid quarterback, had thrown for one touchdown, Curtis Samuel had busted off a 71-yard run for another and PSU’s repeated special-teams blunders (a blocked field goal, a fumbled punt and a bad snap on a punt) had left the Lions staring up at a team that had won its previous 78 games when leading by 14 points or more in the fourth quarter.

OSU had, however, been extended to overtime the previous weekend at Wisconsin, while PSU had a bye, two things that might very well have contributed to all that happened next. You had Lions QB Trace McSorley capping a brisk 90-yard drive with a scoring run early in the final period. And freshman linebacker Cam Brown blocking a punt (even though the block wasn’t on) to set up Tyler Davis’ field goal, cutting the gap to 21-17 with 9:33 left.

Then Allen blocked Tyler Durbin’s 45-yard field goal attempt as well, the first time since 2007 the Lions had rejected two kicks in the same game. Haley collected the rebound and set sail down the left sideline.

Durbin and holder Cameron Johnston gave chase, and Johnston, the punter, closed the gap on Haley, one of the fastest guys on Penn State’s team.

“I told him, ‘If you would have gotten caught by the kicker I never would have let you live that down,’” McSorley said.

Never mind that — Haley admitted he would have never forgiven himself.

He managed to make it the distance, though, and after Ohio State’s final drive ended with a pair of sacks, PSU had the victory.

When the gun sounded several Lions sprinted toward the student section at the south end of the stadium and performed their own version of the Lambeau Leap. And as the fans spilled out onto the field, two male spectators turned to each other high up in the west stands.

“We’re back in business,” one said to the other.

That seemed to be the feeling in the locker room, too.

“It’s just a game that put Penn State back on the map,” Haley said. “We needed that signature win, and we did it tonight.”

All because Marcus Allen soared, and took everyone else along with him.