Hackenberg breaks Penn State freshman passing record with 311 yards; Belton and Lynch each run for 108 yards
Evan Royster has distinguished himself amongst all the superlative running backs that have worn the blue and white. His 22-yard burst on his first carry in last season's win at Michigan State pushed him past the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year, becoming just the seventh Nittany Lion to record multiple 1,000-yard campaigns. The vastly talented and intelligent Royster has joined a great fraternity. Curt Warner, Tony Hunt, Blair Thomas, Curtis Enis, Ki-Jana Carter and Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti are the only other Lions to accomplish the feat. Selected a third-team preseason All-American by Phil Steele's College Preview, the quick and elusive Royster already has passed some of the Penn State greats in career rushing, entering the season in eighth place with 2,918 yards. An All-America and Doak Walker Award candidate, Royster stands 481 yards away from breaking Warner's school career record of 3,398 rushing yards. Penn State began last season with three new offensive linemen and four different starting O-Line units in the first six games, but the instinctive and strong Royster built on his successful 2008 campaign. His 5.7-yard per carry average led all conference players with at least 110 carries last year and he eclipsed the 100-yard mark in six games, giving him 12 career century-busting performances. It should come as no surprise that when Royster has success on the ground the team benefits, as Penn State is 12-0 when he cracks the century mark. The tough and multi-talented Royster was selected 2009 first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media after receiving second-team accolades in 2008. He was No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing at 89.9 ypg and fifth in all-purpose yards (104.9 ypg). A quiet, mature and no-nonsense young man, Royster goes about his business on the field with great determination and a sense of purpose. He gained 1,169 yards on 205 carries in 2009, with six touchdowns. He also had 16 receptions for 187 yards (11.7) and two scores and tallied a team-high 1,364 all-purpose yards. He has tremendous vision and the ability to quickly adapt while carrying the ball in order to maximize the opportunities each play presents. Royster is an accomplished all-around student-athlete who also was a highly-recruited lacrosse player at Westfield HS. Selected to play in the prestigious North-South All-American lacrosse game, he had offers from perennial lacrosse powers Johns Hopkins and Virginia, among others, to play lacrosse. But, the opportunity to play for a Hall of Fame coach, play Big Ten football in arguably the nation's best atmosphere and earn a world-class education won out. One of 10 semifinalists for the 2008 Doak Walker Award, Royster is a gifted runner, receiver and blocker. Royster was on schedule to earn his degree in management information systems in August. He compiled a 3.34 grade-point average during the spring semester.
2009 Senior Season
Penn State began the season with three new offensive linemen and four different starting O-Line units in the first six games, but Royster built on his successful 2008 campaign by eclipsing the 100-yard mark in six games, giving him 12 career century-busting performances. Royster was selected 2009 first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media after receiving second-team accolades in 2008. He was No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing at 89.9 ypg and his 5.7-yard per carry average was first among all conference players with at least 110 carries. Royster also was fifth in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (104.9 ypg). He gained 1,169 yards on 205 carries in 2009, with six touchdowns. He also had 16 receptions for 187 yards (11.7) and two scores and tallied a team-high 1,364 all-purpose yards. Royster made a career-long 49-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter of the 28-7 win over Syracuse. His 61 receiving yards for the game also were a career-high. Royster carried the ball 19 times for 134 yards in the win over Temple. He gave Penn State a 14-3 lead in the second quarter with a seven-yard touchdown run and gained 119 yards on just 15 carries in the first half, including a 33-yard burst. Royster became the 17th Nittany Lion to eclipse 2,000 career rushing yards in the Iowa game. He had 105 yards and scored a touchdown in the victory at Illinois. Royster and Stephfon Green (120 yards) became the first tandem of Nittany Lion running backs to eclipse 100 yards in a Big Ten game in the win in Champaign. Royster ran for 94 yards on just eight carries (11.8), all in the first half, in Penn State's 52-3 victory over Eastern Illinois. He delivered a season-high 137 yards on 23 carries against Minnesota and had a 20-carry, 100-yard rushing performance in the 35-10 win at Michigan. Royster had a 41-yard dash on the Lions' first drive to set up a touchdown in Ann Arbor. Royster gained 118 yards on 15 carries in the 34-13 win at Northwestern. He sprinted for a 69-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, the longest run of his career and the team's longest run of the season. Royster tallied 134 all-purpose yards against Indiana (96 rushing, 39 receiving) in the 31-20 Senior Day victory. He had one touchdown rushing and a 13-yard receiving touchdown. Royster surpassed the 100-yard mark for the sixth time of the season by gaining 114 yards in the 42-14 win at Michigan State. He eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season on a 22-yard run on Penn State's opening drive at Michigan State. He also had a 30-yard burst, averaging 8.8 yards on his 13 carries against the Spartans. Royster cracked the century mark for the 12th time in his career and the Lions remained unbeaten in such contests. He came up big in the 19-17 victory over LSU in the Capital One Bowl as he ran for 65 yards on 17 carries in challenging conditions. Royster was on the field for 593 plays, led by 64 in the win over Minnesota.
2008 Junior Season
Talented and experienced offensive line and wide receiver units and a highly-effective throwing and running quarterback produced a great situation for Royster, who won the primary ball-carrying duties in preseason and had a breakout campaign. Royster was impressive, gaining 1,236 rushing yards on 191 attempts (6.5) and scoring 12 touchdowns. His 1,236 yards ranked as the 10th-best rushing season in Penn State history and were a school record for a sophomore, eclipsing Curtis Enis' 1,210 yards in 1996. Royster also ranked third on the squad with 17 receptions for 155 yards, compiling 1,391 all-purpose yards, second only to Derrick Williams. Rushing for 100 yards or more five times, his 72 points were sixth-highest in the Big Ten among non-kickers. His eye-popping 6.47 per carry average was third-highest among the nation's Top 30 rushers. With the Nittany Lions putting up big numbers in offensive yardage and on the scoreboard, it wasn't until the 10th game of the season that Royster carried the ball more than 20 times in a contest, enabling him to remain fresher and take less of a pounding than other runners as the season progressed. Playing in every game, with 12 starts, Royster gained 64 yards on just eight carries in the opener with Coastal Carolina, scoring on runs of 2, 7 and 10 yards. He was honored as Big Ten Network Player-of-the-Game. Royster exploded onto the national scene with his exceptional performance in the 45-14 win over Oregon State, rushing for a then-career-high 141 yards on just 17 carries, for a remarkable 8.3-yard average. He also found the end zone three times against the Beavers, on runs of 4, 15 and 28 yards, becoming the first player in the Joe Paterno era to rush for six touchdowns in the first two games of a season. He shared Big Ten Offensive Player-of-the-Week accolades. Royster eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the second consecutive week in the victory at Syracuse, totaling 103 yards on just 13 carries for a sterling 7.8 yards per carry average. His game-high 31-yard run early in the second quarter was the centerpiece of Penn State's fourth scoring drive. Royster ran for 73 yards on just nine carries (8.1 avg.) in the win over Temple. His day was highlighted by a 32-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter. In the 38-24 victory against Illinois, Royster gained 139 yards on 19 carries and made two catches for 23 yards. In the win at Purdue, he tied his career-high by grinding out 141 yards on 18 carries (7.8) and scored for the eighth time on a four-yard dash in the third quarter. He also set career-highs for receptions (4), receiving yards (53) and all-purpose yards (194) against the Boilermakers. Royster rolled to a career-high 171 yards rushing, including 112 in the first half, on 17 carries (10.1) and one touchdown in the 46-17 thumping of Michigan. He was instrumental in helping to swing the momentum late in the first quarter with a great individual effort, breaking through would-be tacklers at the line of scrimmage to get into the open field for a career-long 44-yard touchdown jaunt. The 100-yard rushing effort was Royster's fifth of the season and sixth of his brief career. Royster helped Penn State control the clock and maintain possession by grinding out 77 yards on 19 carries in the 13-6 primetime victory at Ohio State. He gained 43 yards in the fourth quarter, helping the Lions score the game's final 10 points in the important win. He also tied for the team lead in receptions, hauling in three for 20 yards against the Buckeyes. Royster set a career-high in carries, rushing 26 times, at Iowa. His 90 yards on the day upped his season total to 1,060, marking the fourth consecutive season that a Penn State running back had reached the 1,000-yard mark. Royster ran for 63 yards (on 12 carries) in the win over Indiana. His 19-yard slashing, tackle-breaking touchdown run early in the third quarter sparked the Lions' dominating second-half offensive performance. The rushing touchdown was Royster's 12th of the season, the most by a Penn State back since Larry Johnson had 20 in 2002. In the 49-18 win over Michigan State, Royster quietly gained an important 79 yards rushing on just 12 carries (6.6 avg.). He also caught three passes for 34 yards in the Big Ten title-clinching win. Royster gained 34 yards on just six carries against Southern California's top-rated defense in the 2009 Rose Bowl, but sprained an ankle in the first half and did not return. He was on the field for 476 snaps, topped by 56 at Iowa and 52 at Purdue.
2007 Sophomore Season
Playing in 12 games, Royster gained 513 yards on 82 carries for a superb 6.3 average, tops among the team's primary ball-carriers. He was second on the team in rushing, scored five rushing touchdowns and caught three passes for 18 yards. For his efforts, he was named to The Sporting News Big Ten All-Freshman team. Royster had just three carries in the last two regular-season games due to a sprained ankle, but was at full strength for the Valero Alamo Bowl, helping Penn State rush for a season-high 270 yards. He capped his freshman campaign by scoring the game-winning touchdown on a season-long 38-yard burst late in the third quarter. Royster finished with 65 yards on nine carries (7.2) in the 24-17 win over Texas A&M. In his Penn State debut, Royster wowed the Beaver Stadium crowd by gaining 70 yards on just eight carries (8.8 avg.) against Florida International. He tallied his first career touchdown on a 13-yard scamper in the third quarter. He chalked up 86 yards on 16 carries in the 27-7 win over Iowa and ran for 68 yards on just eight carries (8.5 avg.) in the 38-7 victory against No. 19 Wisconsin. Royster bolted 19 yards into the end zone in the second quarter to give the Lions a 24-7 lead against the Badgers. He had a team-high 68 yards on the ground on 12 carries (5.7 avg.) in the critical win at Indiana, scoring his third touchdown of the season on a two-yard run. Royster delivered his best performance of the year in the Senior Day win over Purdue. He set season-highs with 126 yards and 21 carries (6.0 avg.). He burst 26 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give the Lions a 26-16 lead and also had a 33-yard run. At Temple, Royster carried the ball one time for five yards, but sprained his ankle on the play and did not return. He carried the ball twice for eight yards at Michigan State, but tweaked the ankle and did not return. He was on the field for 221 snaps, topped by 41 against Iowa and 39 against Purdue.
2006 Freshman Season
Royster was a first-team all-state selection for Coach Tom Verbanic at Westfield HS. He also was named Washington Post first-team All-Met, concluding his brilliant career with 6,384 yards on 750 carries (8.5 avg.) and 90 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Royster ran for 1,690 yards and 22 touchdowns, helping Westfield win the 2003 Virginia AAA Division 6 state championship. As a junior, he ran for 2,160 yards and 30 touchdowns. During his senior year, he amassed 2,200 rushing yards and again tallied 30 touchdowns. Royster helped Westfield win three Concorde District Championships. Royster also was a standout prep lacrosse player, racking up 33 goals as a senior and participating in the prestigious North-South All-American lacrosse game. He was recruited by perennial powers Johns Hopkins and Virginia, among others, to play lacrosse.
Full name is Evan Mathias Royster. He is the son of Ted and Dawna Royster and has three older brothers, Ted Jr., Brandon and Kyle. Brandon played football at Stanford from 2000-03. Royster is majoring in management information systems and is on schedule to graduate in December, in 3 1/2 years. He enjoys music and video games. Born November 26, 1987 in Fairfax, Va.