A senior entering his third year as a starter, Royster needs only 481 yards to break Curt Warner's Nittany Lion career rushing mark of 3,398 yards.
Warner set the standard from 1979-82, and helped lead Penn State to its first national title during his senior season. Since then, the record has held fast, even after All-Americans D.J. Dozier, Blair Thomas, Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis and Larry Johnson took their respective shots at it.
If Royster stays healthy, the record figures to go by the wayside by midseason this fall. And that is just fine with Warner.
“The record has been there longer than I had anticipated it being there,” he said at a PSU Letterman's Club golf outing Saturday. “I want to wish him the best, because that's what records are for. God bless him.”
Of course, it is not as if Warner will be forgotten once his most significant record is passed. Late last year, he received the ultimate honor in college football when he was elected to the sport's Hall of Fame. He was officially enshrined during a ceremony in July, and is now the 17th Nittany Lion player to have a plaque in the South Bend, Ind., museum. PSU head coach Joe Paterno is also in the hall.
Warner at his Hall of Fame ceremony in South Bend, Ind.
“As I've said on many occasions, it was a very humbling experience and I'm honored and thrilled to have been inducted and enshrined to the College Football Hall of Fame,” Warner said. “It's a great honor.”
Warner had an outstanding NFL career, as well, earning All-Pro honors with the Seattle Seahawks in 1983, '85, '86 and '87. This despite suffering a torn ACL that cost him most of the 1984 season. He moved on to the Los Angeles Rams in 1990 and retired after one season there.
Warner and his family are now back in Washington, where he owns a successful car dealership.
Despite the impressive resume, Warner received no special treatment from his Penn State football peers at the Letterman's Club outing. In fact, as he conducted an interview, former teammates Rocky Washington and Mike Cartwright mercilessly razzed him in the background.
“You don't just walk up and [do that] to a guy if you don't know him and haven't spent some time with him,” Warner said with a smile as Washington and Cartwright moved on. “That kind of gives you the flavor for what we've all had an opportunity to experience. And through those experiences, we've been able to develop lasting friendships.”
Of course, there is another bond among the majority of living PSU lettermen, one that Warner even shares with Royster, the young man who is about to break his longstanding record.
“We do have a common denominator, and that's Coach Paterno,” Warner said of the living legend who has led the Nittany Lions since 1966 and has been with the program since 1950. “… He's an outstanding coach. He's done a great job with this organization.”
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