At this time in 2005, Evan Royster was in training camp in northern Virginia. He was working on his burst through the line, his speed around the end, and picking up the blitz in the backfield.
And thinking about who to take to his senior homecoming.
At that point, Royster hadn’t rushed for 2,200 yards and 30 touchdowns in his senior season at Westfield High School. At that point, he wasn’t yet the leading rusher in the history of Penn State football.
At that point, he couldn’t have predicted that he’d be back six short years later as a member of his hometown Washington Redskins.
“It’s awesome,” he said about being back. ”I can go home and see my family and my nephews, and I get to see my friends all the time.”
So far during camp, Royster has had the pleasure of looking in the crowds and seeing familiar faces.
“I’m coming out to the field and hear someone call my name,” he said. ”I gave the usual glance over and had to double-take, because it was one of my friends from high school. It’s really cool to see them out here and watch me practice.”
So far in camp, Royster has looked very comfortable in the backfield, and said that the blocking is familiar, thanks to his college system.
“It’s very similar,” he said. ”There’s tiny wrinkles in it that changes what the receivers or fullbacks are doing. I’ve seen most of the things before, but there’s just so many, and knowing which one is which.”
At this point, Royster is still in the process of translating the new terminology into terms that he understands, like learning a new language.
“Its tough to sit down and get all that stuff ready, but it’s just finding ways to relate things,” he explained. ”Bobby Turner is a great coach. He has all those methods of remembering. He’s been doing it for so long, so it makes it kind of easy on us.”
One of the disadvantages of training camp this year is the expanded rosters, and the subsequent crowd at running back. Royster is currently one of ten backs in camp, and knows that he has to make an impression.
“It’s hard to create a reputation,” he said. ”There’s so many backs and so many possible outcomes. I think I’m adjusting well.”
“I’m hoping the coaches see it and they feel the same way,” he continued. ”You never know how things are going to work out once we put the pads on.”
The next opportunity for him to make that impression comes on Friday night. While he does think he’s ready, he knows that there’s still much more work to do.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said with a smile. ”We still have some more to put into the offense before than. As of now I feel good about it and I’m ready.”
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