In his first NFL start, running back Evan Royster showed gritty determination against one of the league’s better rushing defenses. He gained the most yardage of a running back against the Vikings since Stephen Jackson in 2006, and he gained the most by a Redskins rookie back since 1993.
According to a chat I had with him on Thursday, his training in physicality has been a long time coming, as the youngest of four brothers. Some of his best holiday memories were of getting presents, and then trying to keep them away from his brothers.
“My favorite gift growing up, was the Sega Dreamcast,” he remembered fondly. “I was so excited to get it! I had wanted it forever, it was my gift, and I didn’t get to play it for a couple days because my brothers took over.
“As the youngest, I was spoiled, yes, but I took the punishment for it. I was given gifts, but it didn’t mean they were always mine.”
But those days are behind him, as Christmas is now a peaceful time with family. Yesterday was actually the first Christmas that Royster got to spend with family since 2005, when he was a senior in high school.
Ever since he was in high school, his Nittany Lions have been preparing for holiday bowl games. Whereas some young players will be away from family for the first time, Royster was looking forward to being home.
“All of our bowl games were after Christmas, Dec. 28th or later,” he said. “I haven’t actually spent time with my family for Christmas for the last five years, so this will be my first family Christmas in a while. I’m home, and it’s kind of exciting.”
Royster clearly used that excitement as motivation, in front of his whole family and almost a dozen high school friends, filling in admirably for starter Roy Helu. These were his thoughts after the game:
Baby of the family? Late-round draft pick? Practice squad running back? All of these things contributed to Royster’s inspired performance on Saturday afternoon.
Watch his post-game presser, below:
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