Penn State running back enjoys success as rookie

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — When Penn State coach Joe Paterno makes a rule, it’s rarely broken.
But when running back Curtis Enis came along last season, exceptions had to be made.
The first of Paterno’s rules to go: freshmen sit. Enis (6-foot-1, 231 pounds) was needed to replace a few injured starters. He ended up as the first Penn State freshman to lead the team in rushing in more than a decade.
A second rule — freshmen aren’t publicly acknowledged — also fell by the wayside. After Enis, not even mentioned in the school’s 320-page media guide last year, kept running for more than 100 yards per game, Paterno had little choice but to discuss his new star.
Finally, Enis broke the unwritten rule that Penn State players watch what they say. With dozens of reporters waiting to interview him at the school’s Beaver Stadium earlier this month, the tailback took full advantage of the attention.
“Let’s just say I know when I step on the field, they’d better be ready to play for keeps,” said a smiling Enis, who quickly looked around to see if Paterno was listening. “Maybe you should just say that I have a lot of confidence.”
Enis, who had 113 carries for 683 yards, was the first true freshman to lead Penn State in rushing since D.J. Dozier picked up 1,002 yards in 1983.
With 4.45-second speed in the 40-yard dash, Enis ran for 132 yards against Temple in his first start. The next week, it was 145 yards against Rutgers followed by a season-high 146 against Ohio State.
This year, the Lions have a new offensive line, but that doesn’t faze Enis.
“All I’ve got to do is just be strong from the first quarter all the way through the fourth and continue to do the little things that make good backs into great backs,” Enis said.
And if he doesn’t, Paterno has reminded him the starting tailback job isn’t a lock.
“Curtis is a fine running back, but (the other players) will make him hustle,” Paterno said. “I’ll play whoever has the hot hand.”
Enis doesn’t mind.
“I’ve always loved to have a lot of pressure on my shoulders,” he said. “I think that it either makes you or breaks you, and for the great players, it makes you.”
Enis, who now has an impressive entry in the Lions’ media guide, is one of the reasons they are among the favorites to win the Big Ten.
As he looked past the crowd of reporters and around Beaver Stadium, he marveled at how far he has come.
“My whole hometown of Union City could probably fit on this field, with a lot of room left over,” he said.