Freak of the Week: Ronnie Royal
Freak is a term thrown around too much in the sports world but sometimes it's the first phrase that crowds the cranium when a gaudy athletic feat takes place.
What about an entire game's worth of head-turning and gasp?
SI All-American continues a salute to these dominant high school football players in a weekly feature, of course titled 'Freak of the Week.'
High school football is well underway in several states and the wild, almost Fantasy sports-type statistical performances continue to pile in. FOTW candidates can be dominant in the trenches or beyond the numbers regardless of class, evident in this week's selection of a high school freshman.
You read that correctly, we're featuring a prospect in the recruiting class of 2024 and it goes without saying he's worth keeping an eye on in years to come.
Ronnie Royal kicked off the playoff portion of his 2020 season in a big way, rushing for 332 yards and six touchdowns on just 16 carries on Friday night. The performance helped Alexandria (Ala.) High School rout Cullman (Ala.) West Point 57-20 in the Class 5A state playoffs.
"Friday's game felt different to me because it was a playoff game," Royal told SI All-American. "Just knowing we had to play well because this could be our last game. We just went out there to have fun, just play our game. Coach always says when we work hard and play our game, that's when we're able to go out there and have fun.
"The line blocked well and I was able to have a lot of success running behind them. We knew what we had to do on offense and defense and I think we did a good job doing it. I had a lot of yards but I don't let myself get big-headed -- I just go out there and play ball."
The gaudy effort from the fab frosh was apparent from his first touch of the night, rolling 96 yards to pay dirt. It is at least his second 300-yard rushing effort of 2020.
"Alexandria likes to feature Royal in its offense from both deep-back and shotgun alignments," SIAA's Edwin Weathersby II said. "The Valley Cubs work him on a good dose of toss-schemes with fold concepts and toss-crack concepts, to accent Royal's bounce-style tendencies in his processing and decision-making. They take advantage of static fronts on classic dives as well, featuring some iso concepts.
"Royal has a fairly smooth style in his line of scrimmage of approach, yet does combine some explosive traits with good vision to work off blocks on the second and third levels. He is quick to square his pads vertically once he reaches the box edges, and does show plus long-speed in the open field. Aside from the Valley Cubs aligning Royal as a Wildcat QB some, he's also been seen deployed both as a wing/slot and outside receiver to factor in Alexandria's passing game on crossers and in-breakers."
Royal has been on SIAA's radar for some time, shining in one of the few spring events we attended, the DexPreps showcase in February. Royal took unofficial visits to Tennessee and Florida State before COVID-19 shut down the recruiting world.
As a freshman, Royal has played both ways for Alexandria. On offense he has eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark, with 1,707 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving for a total of 32 touchdowns. As a defensive back, he has 50 tackles and an interception return for a score to his name.
Submit FOTW nominations via Twitter @SIAllAmerican.
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