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September 28, 2010

Royster 'stronger' after early struggles

A full 20 days after his last teleconference with the media, Penn State senior running back Evan Royster was back on Tuesday morning.

In between, Royster went through a difficult start to the season with just 31 carries for 110 yards in three games. Of course, he also managed to break out of the early spell, following three dud performances with his breakout 187-yard day against Temple on Saturday.

Having returned to form, at least for the time being, Royster admitted to be happy to see some success for the offense.

"I think we're just starting to come together," he said. "Our offensive line is starting to come a little bit better I think and people see that we have a passing game, so they can't put eight or nine guys in the box and try to stop the run all the time.

"I think we came together well this weekend and I think we need to just keep it going and keep getting better. Hopefully we can come out and have a game similar to this past weekend."

Off the field, Royster endured criticism unseen to that point in his career as a Nittany Lion.

From head coach Joe Paterno's comments about Royster's weight, to teammates admitting that Royster didn't seem to be himself, to media members openly questioning Royster's abilities, to Royster's own conspicuous absence from the whole conversation, the experience was admittedly trying for him.

After the Temple game, Royster acknowledged to reporters that some of the criticism really bothered him, especially when his friends and family had been also bothered by it.

To get past it, however, Royster said that he's going to be a stronger person.

"It's kind of helped me realize that people aren't always going to be talking good about you," Royster said. "You kind of have to use it to fuel the fire instead of taking offense to it. I think the first couple of weeks has helped me do that."

Senior wide receiver and captain Brett Brackett said today that, along with other teammates, Royster was rallied around during the difficult stretch.

"Not as a captain but as a friend," Brackett said. "We all had talked with Evan. It was just something that he wasn't getting some things falling his way.

"He's was getting criticized for a little bit of his weight, but he's been working hard. Everybody sees it on the team. It's not like he hasn't been working hard, it just happened to pay off this weekend and I think it's going to pay off the rest of the year."

Although Royster admitted on Saturday that there were ways he probably could have handled the situation better, this morning, he said he had no regrets about not dealing with the media directly to deal with the story head on.

"To tell you the truth, I just kind of wanted to kind of... I don't know, I kind of wanted to be with myself, be in my own head and not have to deal with everything," Royster said. "I think that's what I needed and I think it helped me. It helped me not have to worry about what everybody else was saying."


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