UNIVERSITY PARK -- They don't come much tougher than Silas Redd Sr. Six years in the Marines, followed by 24 years as a police detective working with at-risk kids and in the narcotics division have made the patriarch of the Redd family a no-nonsense disciplinarian who exemplifies leadership, family values and work ethic. It's no wonder that his son, Penn State running back Silas Redd Jr., exhibits those exact same qualities.
"That's a credit to my father," the younger Redd said. "My dad went straight to the military out of high school, was a Marine for six years, a cop for 20-something years, so he's very militant and his mental toughness is impeccable. He kind of instilled that in me as a kid, and it's just stuck with me since then.
"I'm not going to back down to anyone, I don't care who they are. I definitely think he blessed me with that."
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Running back Silas Redd was a top-five high school football recruit coming out of the state of Connecticut.
Redd has been at Penn State only a little more than a year, but the sophomore already has earned a reputation as one of the team's hardest workers. And its best running back.
He was impressive as a true freshman last season, gaining 437 yards and averaging 5.7 yards per carry. With PSU career rushing leader Evan Royster now gone, the 5-foot-10, 209-pound Redd has earned an opportunity to take over as the starting tailback.
The key word there is earned. Everything Redd has accomplished in football has been earned thanks to the strict discipline and incredible work ethic he learned from his father.
"My take on things is this: You've got to put in the work," Silas Redd Sr. said by phone from Connecticut. "If you aspire to achieve a degree of success in anything that you might do -- be it in the classroom, be it in the workplace, be it in athletics, whatever it might be -- you've got to put in work. It's just that simple. Don't complain about it. Put in the work."
Redd has heard those and other similar words his entire life from his father. He didn't always like them, either.
"He was hard on me, showed me tough love at times when I needed it," he said. "Of course, I hated it as a kid, but it paid off."
That it did.
Rivals.com rated Redd the best prep player in Connecticut and the No. 4 running back in the nation in 2009 when he was a senior at King Low Heywood Thomas School -- or King, as it's called -- in Stamford, Conn.
Redd's high school numbers were downright silly. He averaged 14 yards per carry as a senior, gaining 1,924 yards on just 137 attempts. He also averaged 240 yards per game and scored 25 touchdowns.
King head coach Dan Gouin had watched Redd grow up in football since he was 6 years old. He knew what kind of player he was getting, and since Gouin also coached Redd's older brother, Mike Little, and was friends with his father, he knew what kind of person he was getting, too.
"It's kind of hard not to be disciplined and dedicated when your dad's a former Marine and police officer," Gouin said.
It wasn't just the discipline, though, or the toughness that "Big Si," as Gouin calls him, instilled in his children. It wasn't merely about success on the playing field, either.
It has always been about life priorities for Redd's father.
"He wanted Silas to work hard and do the right thing, and if he was a good football player, that was great," Gouin said. "If he's a good person, that was better."
For Redd Sr., being a good person comes down to simple things.
"Life is right and wrong. Black and white. There's no gray area," he said. "It is what it is. So it's about choice. It's about consequence. Think before you act. And when you do that, chances are you're going to make the right decisions."
Redd Sr., who in June was named Stamford Police Association Officer of the Year for 2010, described himself as a "no-nonsense guy" and added that's how he and his wife, Yvonne, "govern our home."
"What Si has realized and has understood for quite some time -- and one of the things my family have been advocates of -- is hard work," the elder Redd said. "Hard work, make good life choices, be a good person, be of sound character and good things happen to you. He embraced that, as did my other children, and we're extremely proud of all three of them.
"But Silas, he gets it. He understands it. And he's willing to do what needs to be done in order to achieve what he's dreamed of since he was a kid."
The dream is now to make his mark at Penn State, a place his father believes is the perfect fit for him.
"When people think Penn State, they think about the rich football tradition of the institution, but what many people don't realize is Penn State is equally rich in academics," Redd Sr. said. "The combination of the two, coupled with the coaching staff and the character of the entire staff and what they instill in their players, it just kind of carries over from home in what we instilled and what they're instilling at Penn State University."
Redd has had one minor off-the-field incident at Penn State as he was cited for public urination on campus at 4:13 a.m. on November 15 last year. It might have caused him some embarrassment, but it didn't hurt his playing status as he was on the field later that week against Indiana.
The coaching staff knows the kind of person Redd is and didn't hold that incident against him.
"Silas came in here already with a very disciplined, family orientated background," offensive coordinator and running backs coach Galen Hall said. "I think he was like that when he got here. He's taken it upon himself to continue that.
"A lot of people would come in here, in college life, away from home, and sort of stray and get in with maybe the wrong people or whatever happens to young men today. He has not. He's stayed straight line."
Redd wears No. 25, prompting some people to talk about him as a possible second coming of former PSU star Curt Warner, who also wore that number. It's way too early and probably a little unfair to compare an unproven sophomore to a College Football Hall of Famer who won a national title in 1982 and went on to a successful NFL career, but Redd's elusiveness and running style remind many of Warner's great skills.
Gouin believes that when all is said and done, Redd will be right up there with Warner near the top of the Penn State career rushing list. Warner had held the top spot for 28 years with 3,398 yards before Royster surpassed it last year with 3,932.
Royster moved his way up the list by starting for three years, something Redd has a chance to do.
"If he stays healthy, he'll finish up near the top of the rushing leaders there," Gouin said.
Redd acknowledged the comparisons to Warner are an honor, but he also knows he has a long, long way to go before he will deserve to be mentioned in that conversation.
"He's a pleasure to coach, and he'll do whatever we ask of him," Hall said. "Everything that makes him good comes from his background and God-given talent, plus the family discipline."
Kids rarely understand the value of what they're being taught at the time, and Redd is no exception.
Looking back on it now, he realizes his father's tough love and strict discipline shaped him into the man he is today, and he's greatly appreciative of that.
"So much. So much," Redd said. "I wouldn't want to change it if I could do it all over again."
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.