There have been plenty of talented Penn Staters who’ve worn no. 22 over the years.
Safety Ray Isom was one of the leaders of the secondary on Penn State’s 1986 national championship team. Quarterback Chuck Burkart went 22-0 (22!) as a starter in 1968 and 1969. Running back Akeel Lynch finished his Penn State career no. 32 on the school’s all time rushing list with 1,318 yards. Perhaps the most storied was tailback John Cappelletti, Penn State’s only Heisman Winner, leading the Nittany Lions to a perfect 12-0 season and No. 5 ranking in 1973, and the reason no. 22 was retired by Penn State.
Today we focus on a more recent no. 22: the record-setting running back Evan Royster.
A 3 star recruit from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Virginia near Washington, D.C., Royster led his high school team to three district championships, and earned more than 6,300 rushing yards and 90 touchdowns. He was also one of the top lacrosse prospects in the country, but chose to pursue football for the Nittany Lions instead as part of the 2006 class.
After sitting out his freshman year, Royster came out strong in 2007, playing in 12 games and gaining 412 yards on 82 carries for a 6.3 average – and second on the team in rushing.
He kept getting better and better each year, with 1,236 rushing yards on 191 attempts (6.5) and scoring 12 touchdowns in 2008, a school record for a sophomore.
As a junior in 2009, he was ranked no. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing at 89.9 ypg and a 5.7 per carry average that was the top in the conference. Royster gained 1,169 yards on 205 carries in 2009, with six touchdowns. He also had 16 receptions for 187 yards (11.7) and two scores and tallied a team-high 1,364 all-purpose yards.
By the time he reached his final season in 2010, Evan Royster had rushed for 3,932 yards on 686 carries and 29 touchdowns, and caught 61 passes for 562 yards and 3 touchdowns. He became Penn State's all-time leading rusher during 2010, surpassing Curt Warner’s record of 3,398 yards during the Michigan game. Royster was also the first Nittany Lion with three 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
Post Penn State, Royster was picked up by the Washington Redskins in the 6th round of the NFL Draft, 177th overall. He made his debut in week 12, and in his rookie season rushed for 328 yards on 56 carries. Royster played for the Redskins until 2014, plagued with injuries on and off during that time. He then had a brief stint with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 as a practice squad/ offseason member, ending with his injury and his subsequent release, bringing his NFL career to an end.
Enjoy some of Evan Royster’s Penn State highlights and get ready for Penn State football!