|Evan Royster emerges as Penn State's big-time back|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 23 October 2008 10:17|
He's not too bad at his other sport, either.
Royster ended up dropping lacrosse and playing football at Penn State, where the second-year tailback has revved up the No. 3 Nittany Lions' potent rushing game with 893 yards and 10 touchdowns on 116 carries this season - an eye-popping 7.7-yard average.
While Ohio State counterpart Chris ``Beanie'' Wells got the Heisman hype this preseason, Royster toiled in relative anonymity - even after a promising freshman campaign last year while backing up 1,000-yard rusher Rodney Kinlaw.
Now No. 22 is squarely in the sights of opposing defenses. Royster even has a growing fan club called ``Blue Royster Cult.''
4-0 Big Ten) visits the 10th-ranked Buckeyes (7-1, 4-0) on Saturday night.
``His speed is very deceptive. It helps him out. And he has great balance,'' Jenkins said.
Royster might blush if he heard Jenkins' praise. The even-keeled Royster isn't much of a talker.
Receiver Derrick Williams is the confident senior captain. Daryll Clark is the cool and highly effective dual-threat quarterback. Center A.Q. Shipley provides muscle and comic relief.
They're also all key components of a Spread HD offense that excels in the running game in large part because of the plethora of looks the offense can give opposing defenses.
The all-purpose Williams can run sweeps out of the backfield or end-arounds. Clark can sneak his way past defensive linemen on draws or create big gains rolling out of the pocket. Shipley and his fellow linemen are effective pulling in the open.
``It's a lot easier. (Defenses) really have a lot to account for,'' Royster said. ``Having Daryll as a threat, and our receivers ... it really helps the running game.''
Then there's the shifty Royster, who enjoys pounding it out between the tackles.
Coach Joe Paterno likes Royster's vision, something the tailback has said has been helped by his experience on the lacrosse field. Shipley said he loves Royster because of the tailback's propensity to fall forward when he finishes runs.
ng instinctive for a running back, but Royster said he's had to work on it throughout his career.
``It's something that my coaches have stressed since I was young,'' Royster said. ``Your body is two yards long. If you're falling forward, that's two yards per play, so it's something that I've worked on my whole life.''
Royster this season seems to have especially improved on his ability to gain separation in the open.
A 44-yard touchdown run last week against Michigan showed Royster's second gear, when he emerged from the crowded trench, then smoothly sidestepped defenders in the open before scooting into the end zone.
``The one great play he had last week was against Michigan where he just popped out of a pile and took it the distance, that's a testament to how good he is,'' Jenkins said.
Clark praised Royster for doing ``everything asked of him.''
``Make no mistake, Wells is a great player,'' Clark said when asked if Royster should be talked about in the Heisman race. ``I think if you want to talk about Heisman and running backs, Royster should be one of the top names. No question.''