Royston’s leg at ‘99.8 percent’

by Josh Katzenstein

Gophers senior safety Kim Royston hasnâÄôt played a game at Camp Randall Stadium since Nov. 10, 2007 when Wisconsin trounced No. 13 Michigan, 37-21. Royston wore a cardinal and white jersey that day and made three tackles in a game that gave the Badgers plenty of confidence to drop Minnesota to 1-11 the following week. Nov. 17, 2007 became the second time Royston âÄî a sophomore at the time âÄî won Paul BunyanâÄôs Axe. The Cretin-Derham Hall graduate transferred after that season and had to sit out 2008 due to NCAA rules. Now, the transfer returns to the place he called home for two years with hopes of taking the Axe away from Madison, something Minnesota hasnâÄôt done since 2003. The question is, though, whether or not he will be anything more than a cheerleader for the Gophers as he hopes to play for the first time this season. âÄúTheres a chance,âÄù said Royston who broke two bones in his left leg during spring practice, âÄúbut I think itâÄôs going to be a game-time decision if it happens. ItâÄôll be made when I know I can go out there.âÄù Royston practiced harder this week than he has all season, he said, but he doesnâÄôt want to play if heâÄôs not 100 percent healthy. He said the leg is at 99.8 percent. âÄúWhether or not Kim is on the field or whether or not Kim is on the sideline, he’s going to be a big part of this game,âÄù Gophers coach Tim Brewster said. âÄúFrom an emotional standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, he’s going to be a part of leading the charge for us on Saturday.âÄù Royston is something of a spy for the Gophers. During his two years at Wisconsin, he practiced against a number of the current receivers, so he can offer the young Minnesota secondary some inside information. âÄúI might know a little bit more tendencies that they like to do,âÄù Royston said. âÄúBesides that, a lot of the XâÄôs and OâÄôs go out the window for this game. âÄúItâÄôs going to be the one who has the most heart who wins.âÄù RoystonâÄôs heart is all focused on Minnesota winning the Axe, but he does still have friends on the team. He said he was close with cornerback Jay Valai, receiver Isaac Anderson and running back John Clay. Frienships aside, Royston thinks the Gophers have enough talent to come away with the Axe on Saturday, which he told the team Tuesday. âÄúIâÄôve been in both locker rooms. I know what talent they have, and I know what talents we have. ItâÄôs not a matter that theyâÄôve got a superb amount of more talent,âÄù Royston said. âÄúItâÄôs just a matter of that winning culture they have developed over there. You just see that through the last couple games that weâÄôve played [against Wisconsin].âÄù The last two games âÄî both won by Wisconsin âÄî were three-point games. This season the Gophers are hoping to start a winning culture of their own, but have slipped to 1-4 (0-1 Big Ten) this season. A win for Royston and Minnesota could be a lift for more than the team. âÄúItâÄôs a big week for the team. ItâÄôs a big week for me. ItâÄôs a big week for the state,âÄù Royston said. âÄúWeâÄôre struggling right now at 1-4, but if we win this game itâÄôll make a lot of people feel a lot better about the season, and then hopefully it will be a confidence booster and just get things to start rolling.