Evan Royster, one of the greatest high school football players to ever come out of the Northern Virginia area, will one day, hopefully soon, be adorned in a burgundy and gold football uniform — the team colors of his home town NFL team, the Washington Redskins.
The former Westfield High star running back, who went on to break the all-time career rushing record at Penn State University, was selected by the Redskins, one of the NFL's oldest and tradition-rich franchises, in the sixth round of last week's draft.
Once a new NFL agreement is ultimately reached between the players and management, teams will be able to begin preparations for offseason workouts and look ahead to the upcoming NFL season this fall. If no agreement is reached in the weeks or months ahead, there could be a work stoppage and possibly a season lockdown, which would mean drafted players such as Royster would have to put their NFL dreams on hold for a while.
Royster, who resides in Fairfax, was the second running back chosen by the Redskins in the draft. The first was Roy Helu, Jr., a fourth round selection and the first of three consecutive University of Nebraska players chosen by Washington.
Royster was thrilled to be chosen by his local hometown team.
"I think I had the most contact with the Redskins leading up into the draft," said Royster, in a draft story reported on the Washington Redskins' Official Website. "It was a team that I was hoping for because it would make my family happy. I'd be close to home. And a lot of my friends were hoping I'd go to Washington."
<b>ROYSTER</b>, a 2006 graduate of Westfield, played football for the Bulldogs under head coach Tom Verbanic. He finished his stellar high school career with 6,384 yards and 90 touchdowns. As a senior, he was named the Northern Region Offensive Player of the Year, rushing for 2,161 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Royster received heavy interest from colleges nationwide towards the end of his high school career. His final two choices were Penn State and Nebraska, and he ultimately chose to become a Nittany Lion under legendary coach Joe Paterno.
Royster rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his final three college seasons at Penn State, the first Nittany Lion running back to ever do so at the school which has traditionally emphasized the running game. He finished his Penn State career with 3,932 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Royster, who is 6-1 and 228 pounds, is the second outstanding Penn State running back in recent years to come out of the Northern Region. The other was former T.C. Williams High standout Tony Hunt, who is Penn State's third all-time leading rusher behind Royster and former Seattle Seahawks great Curt Warner. Hunt was a third round selection of the Phildelphia Eagles in the 2007 draft.
Evan is the younger brother of Brandon Royster, another former star running back from the Northern Region. Brandon, a 2000 Fairfax High graduate, was part of a Fairfax High football team that went 10-0 in both his junior and senior seasons under coach Verbanic. For his Fairfax career, Brandon rushed for over 5,300 yards and 60 touchdowns. He went on to play collegiately at Stanford University under former Cardfinal coach Tyron Willingham.
Evan Royster, as a sophomore at Westfield, helped lead the Bulldogs to the state AAA football title. He averaged over 150 rushing yards per game that fall.
"He got the taste of the limelight — the taste of winning," said Verbanic, years later.
The state crown was not only the first for Westfield, but also the first for Verbanic.
Prior to Royster's first year at Penn State, Verbanic was asked how he believed Evan would fare as a running back at a big-time college.
"It's always hard to predict no matter how good a kid is in high school how well he is going to do at the next level," said Verbanic. "But he has some things going for him. One, is his physical strength. He's a hard worker in the weight room. That gives him a big heads up on a lot of kids. The second thing is that he wants to win. I think that puts him apart from other kids — his competitive nature."
Both Evan and older brother Brandon were named to the Centre View Newspapers' "Greatest of All Time" top 100 athletes from the Northern Region in the summer of 2006. Brandon was No. 41 on the list and Evan was No. 28.
<lst>Paul Frommelt contributed to this story.