If you were able to crane you neck over the horizon, the flashing lights of New York City would just be visible from the streets of Stamford Connecticut, a town of 120,000 living in the shadow of the world’s most famous city. For any teenager, the life and allure of New York is almost too hard to pass up. Weekends on the town, a night at the club, or a Sunday afternoon at Giants Stadium are all just a stones throw away. The energy in the city is addictive, and for a high school student growing up just around the corner it can be all too easy to get swept up in the bright lights.
"You could always find me and my friends hanging out at our houses. If it was mine or a friends, we were always together. It was really rare to find us alone" Said Redd, Penn State’s up and coming sophomore running back. Redd doesn’t deny that he frequently visits NYC. As a huge Giants fan, he’d be doing himself a disservice if he didn’t make a trip to Giants Stadium to see them take on the Cowboys, but growing up, Silas was just as happy to spend time with his friends and family just hanging out. The lights always had their time to shine, but life was better lived with those who you cared for.
But nothing can outrun the speed of light.
Redd was at standout player while attending King Low Heywood Thomas School and was selected to play in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. As a senior, Redd gained 1,924 yards on 137 carries, averaging an incredible 14.0 yards per attempt. His play earned him a Rivals four-star rating and offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Rutgers, Stanford, Oregon, and Virginia. He was also seeing interest from Florida and Texas.
With so many offers from big schools with big names Redd could have gone anywhere. He could have played in front of thousands of his fellow Connecticut natives, running amuck in the Big East while living a short drive away from his family. He could have starred in Texas in front of thousands of football crazed fans looking for their next Reggie Bush. But instead, Redd found himself at the unflashy, no frills Penn State University. Penn State and Redd are one in the same. Team over self, family over fame, and success with honor.
"I want to be remembered as an ambassador of Penn State University. I want people to remember me not only athletically but for my character too. It’s important that I play well, but I want people to remember me for who I was as a person." Redd said, stressing that his success is only important if it contributes to the team's ability to win. The ultimate team player, waiting for his chance to carry the load.
Fortunately for Redd he will get his chance to do just that this upcoming season as the departure of Penn State All-Time leading rusher Evan Royster has left a hole in the running game that Redd hopes to fill.
"Playing behind (Evan) Royster was a pleasure because he really helped me develop my game in a lot of aspects. Blocking, my vision, reading blocks, etc..I never thought I was going to have this much hype going into my sophomore season. The hype forces me to stay on top of my game because of the high expectations that people are giving me. I want to live up to them"
This hype? Ironically Redd’s play is quite the juxtaposition to his humble personality. A breathtaking ability to make a tackler miss, hitting the hole with speed, and making a plays with his hands are all trademarks of Redd's game. While Silas only got to carry the ball around 80 times last season, his shake and bake has made almost every Penn State fan a believer. Few people can make you gasp while only gaining 3 yards on a broken play, something Redd has done on more than one occasion. That along with the fact Redd's motor is always running at 110% makes him an easy fan favorite and a player that has awoken the memories of players like Larry Johnson and Aaron Harris. With games like his 11 carry 131 yard performances against Northwestern, Penn State fans are expecting big things from a down to earth kid who grew up just outside New York City.
So turn the clock ahead to September, it’s Friday night in the Toftress Resort just outside of State College where the football team stays before every home game. Once again, the party life is all too close. If you look through the trees you can see the lights and hear the sounds through the hazy late summer air. As the team turns in their phones for the night Redd is looking out the window. He can see the lights clearly, but they are of Beaver Stadium. A stadium that represents more than just football, it represents what Silas has always been about. Success, honor, and team. He turns in his phone to a manager, says goodnight to his roommates, and cracks the blinds open one last time, sneaking in a final peek at the lights just over the hill. As the light from the window cascades across the room Silas knows what awaits him the next morning. And he just smiles. He's ready to shine.
*This is a republishing of a buried post from my time at VBR