Further bolstering their collection of running backs, the Washington Redskins selected Penn State’s Evan Royster with the 177th pick over the draft, making a family’s dream a reality.
A former standout at Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., the 6-foot, 212-pound Royster amassed 3,932 yards over the course of four seasons at Penn State to finish as the Nittany Lions’ all-time leading Rusher.
During the pre-draft evaluation process, Royster said he had more contact with the Redskins than any other team, and his parents, who were a fixture at his Penn State games, where hoping he would land with Washington so they could continue attending his games.
“The Redskins were our first choice in a team for him,” his father, Ted, said. “Going to all those Penn State games, we followed them everywhere. Now that he’s with the Redskins, we’re going to do the same thing. … We got the initial call from [Redskins] running backs coach [Bobby Turner], and then we got the call from [Turner] and Mike Shanahan to confirm it and that’s when we let out the big cheer.”
The Roysters found a strange coincidence in his being selected by Washington. His father is a retired ATF agent, and his badge number was 177. Mr. Royster pointed out that the Redskins selected his son with the 177nd overall pick.
Evan Royster said that he is excited to play in Shanahan’s offense, and said the coach told him he sees similarities in Royster and another standout back he coached.
“Coach Shanahan, he said to me when they drafted me that I remind him of Terrell Davis, and that’s who I want to be,” Royster said. “Clinton Portis was definitely one of the guys I watched growing up a little bit. He was a great all-aroun dplayer, all-around back, and that’s what I want to be. So that would be great to kind of mold my game a little bit after his.”
When discussing Royster following the completion of the draft, Shanahan didn’t hide his pleasure over landing the back, and said that he could challenge for the starting job.
“He’s just a natural runner and when you take a look at him, you don’t see anything that would blow you away,” Shanahan said. “All he does is gain yards. He’s one of those guys, very smooth, very elusive. You run it back and forth and all of a sudden you’re saying, ‘How did he gain all those yards?’ When you take a look at his production at Penn State, all those yards, he’s just the guy I was hoping would be there and I feel very fortunate. I think we have an excellent back that will come in here and compete for a starting position.”
The Redskins took Royster after selecting three straight Nebraska players: running back Roy Hele, safety DeJon Gomes and receiver Niles Paul. After Royster, Washington selected SMU receiver Aldrick Robinson, Boisie State cornerback Brandyn Thompson and Florida guard Maurice Hurt. The Redskins have two more picks remaining (224th overall, 253rd overall).