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By Mike Molde
Minnesota Athletic Communications Assistant

There are few, if any, players on Minnesota's roster who play the game with more heart and desire than senior Kim Royston.
Go Gophers! Roytson
Go Gophers!
Senior Kim Royston came up big in several spots during Saturday's win.
Go Gophers!

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound safety from Minneapolis, Minn. (CretinDerham Hall) suffered a gruesome compound fracture of his lower leg during 2010 spring practice, and had been attempting to make a return to the field last season before he suffered a setback in his recovery.

This season, Royston wasn't even supposed to be on the Gophers' roster, yet he was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, and he's taken advantage of that extra opportunity by putting up amazing numbers week after week.

On Saturday, Royston helped the Gophers retain possession of the Floyd of Rosedale trophy by recording a career-high 16 tackles (eight solo) in Minnesota's 22-21 win versus Iowa. It was the sixth time in eight games this season that he's had double-digit tackles.

"My shoulder's a little tweaked, but that's the game of football," Royston said. "I'll be in good and early at rehab icing it. But, hey, I'm a safety, and you've got to make the plays."

Make plays, he did. Royston also recovered a crucial onside kick that led to MarQueis Gray's game-winning three-yard touchdown run with 2:48 remaining in the victory, head coach Jerry Kill's first in Big Ten play.

"We've been practicing that ever since fall camp," Royston said of the onside kick. "I knew there was going to be a moment where I had to make the play. There were a couple times throughout the year when we almost called it, but when coach told me, I had no doubt that I was going to get the ball. Big players have got to stand up in big games."

Royston's been coming up big for the Gophers all season long. A full year-and-a-half after that injury, Royston returned to the field in this season's opening game at USC. He led the Gophers with 10 tackles versus the Trojans, and leads the team with 77 tackles (46 solo) this year.

Royston's previous career-high tackles total was the 15 he recorded in the 14-13 loss to Iowa State in the 2009 Insight Bowl. Just months later, Royston's career was put in jeopardy when he broke his leg.

But his hard work and persistence to return to the field for the Gophers has paid off, and on this day, his effort was instrumental in helping Minnesota walk off the field at TCF Bank Stadium with Floyd of Rosedale proudly held high.

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