Jon Runyan Hopes to Cast Larger Shadow than Dad

Ed Kracz

INDIANAPOLIS – Jon Runyan was just a boy when his dad, who goes by the same name, played right tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2000 through 2008.

Runyan loved going to watch his father play. He would be the first to wake up every Sunday in the fall when the Eagles had a home game – unless it was a night game because he had school early the next morning. He would throw on his dad’s No. 69 jersey and wait while the rest of the family woke up to drive to the stadium.

“I loved to get to the stadium two hours before a game started,” said Runyan, now an offensive line prospect, at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday. “I loved watching warmups. I remember being in my seat and everybody was in the back socializing. The kickers are out and I’m just staring at warmups because I just love the game of football.”

After the game, Runyan and Brian Dawkins’ son would go into the locker room and collect all the wadded up balls of tape worn by the Eagles in that day’s game and make up their own game, running around the locker room like they owned the place.

They kind of did.

“Everybody respected us because we were Brian Dawkins and Jon Runyan’s sons,” said Runyan. “Nobody could say anything.”

As Runyan grew, his father never pushed him to play football, but aided in his development. He taught him how to watch film while attending high school at Saint Joe’s Prep in Philly. He would refine his technique.

Still, growing up as Jon Runyan’s son wasn’t as easy as one may think.

“It was kind of hard, especially trying to play football in the Philadelphia area,” said Runyan. “People were always giving me these unfair comparisons against my dad when I was just a 14-year-old kid just trying to find my way. I didn’t even know what position I was good at yet.

“It was really difficult, and I still get those comparisons to him. I feel like sometimes they’re unfair. I’m still going into my own. Feel like I’m at the point my whole life I’ve been living kind of in the shadow, but I’m trying to step outside that shadow and cast a bigger one over that one.”

Runyan followed in his father’s footsteps and attended Michigan. Runyan, who is now 46-years old, was selected in the fourth round of the 1996 draft by the then-Houston Oilers, who became the Tennessee Titans after Runyan’s first season. He signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 2000.

Now, his son, who is 6-5, 320 pounds, may also be drafted in that range. He may even go sooner, depending on how team’s feel about him moving to guard, a position where his future likely lies in the NFL despite playing tackle at Michigan.

Who knows, maybe Runyan will even be drafted by the team he grew up following while attending Saint Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia?

“It would be really cool,” said Runyan, who said he has talked a little bit to the Eagles. “I haven’t thought about it too much. I don’t want to get my hopes up. It would be something awesome.

“I grew up with the tradition of Philadelphia sports. They’re different about their sports down there, I don’t know how else to say it. I understand everything about that city, the toughness and grit they expect from their players. If I’m lucky enough to go there or any NFL team, I’ll always put my best effort out there.”

The Eagles could be looking to add interior line depth, and Runyan could swing out to tackle in a pinch. He may even be able to learn the center position.

“There’s actually a lot of different opinions,” said Runyan about where his future position lies. “I kind of see myself projecting more inside at the next level, but I still feel like I will always have the capability of kicking out to tackle based on my athletic ability.

“I even did kind of play center my first year at Michigan, so I still have that. I’ve been pitching my versatility as an offensive lineman. Teams tell me not to push off the tackle idea. It’s something I’m fine with. I don’t care. My whole career, I’ve always just wanted to get on the field.”