Royster Blasts Into the Record Book

The veteran ball-carrier is happy and relieved to finally own the school's all-time rushing mark.

The magnitude of the accomplishment set in with Evan Royster by degrees, as he knew it would.

His teammates began congratulating him for breaking Penn State's all-time rushing record when he returned to the sideline after scoring his second touchdown, late in the first quarter of Saturday's 41-31 victory over Michigan. That came four plays after his 20-yard burst off left tackle took him past Curt Warner and into the record book.

He savored everything as the day went on, and the offense continued to roll.

And as he continued to roll with it.

“I wouldn't have it any other way,” he said following his 29-carry, 150-yard effort. “Having a good game at home and breaking the record is kind of how I saw it (happening). … It's something that I'll never forget.”

But it really didn't hit home completely until the game ended and he reached the locker room. One by one his teammates approached him to offer their best. One of his closest friends, wide receiver Graham Zug, began calling him “All-Time.” It was, Royster said, the perfect ending to such a day.

“I almost started crying,” he said. “It feels great to have teammates like that, that love you and have your back all the way.”

And who wanted so much to share in his moment.

“I'm really happy for Evan, and certainly happy to be a part of it,” guard Stefen Wisniewski said. “It's definitely something I'll be able to look back on when I'm older and say, 'Hey, I blocked for Penn State's all-time leading rusher for three years.' That's pretty cool.”

Added center Doug Klopacz, “We help him out, he helps us out, you know? It goes both ways with that.”

Klopacz also said something that many people might have felt, in the stands and the locker room.

“I thought he would have broken it a little earlier,” he said, “but you know, better late than never, I guess, right?”

Royster needed 31 yards at the beginning of the day to surpass Warner's mark of 3,398 yards. He wound up with his 14th career 100-yard game, and his third against Michigan. It was the second time this year he has eclipsed the century mark.

From the very beginning of the game it was apparent yards would be easy to come by against the Wolverines' forgiving defense. Royster ran five times for 26 yards on the Lions' first possession of the night, a 14-play, 71-yard march that ended with his four-yard TD.

And on PSU's first play from scrimmage after Michigan answered with a touchdown drive of its own -- the incomparable Denard Robinson finished it off by dashing 32 yards to the end zone -- Royster ripped off that 20-yard run. He said he didn't realize he had set the record at that moment. Quarterback Matt McGloin didn't, either.

About the only ones who did, apparently, were the fans who had hung a banner behind the PSU bench counting down Royster's yards to the record, right below a countdown to Joe Paterno's 400th victory; he is one away from that now.

And soon after Royster set the new mark, those fans placed the following designation next to his name: “New Rushing Leader.”

It wasn't until after the game that an announcement was made in the stadium. Royster was shaking hands with some of the Wolverines at that point. (Moments before he had hugged fullback Michael Zordich, who offered Royster his congratulations. “Couldn't be happier for him,” Zordich said later. “We're very close. We're boys.”)

Royster did a brief TV interview on the field, then headed off to the locker room, and to the warm embrace -- literally -- of his teammates.

“I thought that's the best he's played,” Paterno said. “I thought he had a little more running room. He had a chance to make some decisions, and he had time to make some decisions, because we stayed on some blocks.”

Then Paterno added, quite surprisingly and seriously, the following: “He must have broken the record. Did he break it today?”

Uh, yeah.

“It feels like the monkey's off my back,” Royster said. “I look forward to celebrating for a little bit, but (more to) getting back to it and looking forward to next week.”

He said his entire family was in attendance, as were some of his high school teachers. That made the night special. But the game itself made it even more so.

“To tell you the truth, I can't remember a time when I was that happy playing in a football game,” he said. “It felt really good just to have the camaraderie our team has. It felt good when everybody's feeling good. Everybody's happy with how the game's going, and everybody's into it.”

Someone then asked him if it will be even more special to come back for Homecoming in five years and be recognized as the all-time leading rusher.

“Probably,” he said. “But by that time Silas (Redd) might break it.”

Everybody laughed. It had been a great day. A day when everything fell into place.

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