Big-time Bloodlines: Roots run deep for Runyan, Shurmur

La Salle quarterback Kyle Shurmur and St. Joe's Prep's Jon Daniel Runyan. (Matthew Hall/Staff Photographer)

Pat Shurmur recalls the countless pass-and-catch sessions in the backyard, watching his son make surprisingly crisp and accurate throws.

The youngster, when it came to organized play, showed more natural ability on offense. "He's never been a good tackler," his father said with a laugh.

Jon Runyan remembers the Tuesday afternoons, while at home and recovering from another exhausting NFL game, when he would test his namesake's hand-eye coordination.

"I would have him run across the room and wing the ball at him," he said. "I said to him, 'At the very least, you're going to have good hands.' "

La Salle quarterback Kyle Shurmur and St. Joseph's Prep lineman Jon Daniel Runyan, two of Pennsylvania's top high school senior players entering the season that begins Friday, have benefited immeasurably over the years from the pointers passed along by their football-savvy fathers.

Pat Shurmur is in his second stint as an assistant coach with the Eagles, this time as offensive coordinator for Chip Kelly's speedy offense. The ex-Michigan State center also has been a coach in St. Louis and Cleveland.

Jon Runyan was a nail-spitting, no-holds-barred offensive tackle in the NFL for 14 seasons, including nine with the Eagles. Standing 6-foot-7 but considerably slimmer than his final-season weight of 330 pounds, he also is finishing his second term as a U.S. congressman in New Jersey's Third District.

Last Friday, a day after the Eagles' preseason win over the visiting Steelers, Pat Shurmur watched Kyle and the Explorers play in a scrimmage at Haverford School.

"For the most part, I stay in the background," Pat Shurmur said. "I do enjoy any chance I get to see Kyle play. I'll probably get to see half of La Salle's games this season."

Jon Runyan is a regular at the Prep's practices and games, serving almost as a volunteer assistant coach. Does he think his son has the nasty streak that marked his own playing career?

"I'd like to see him have it a little more," he said. "But you first have to take care of the fundamentals. You have to be technically sound before anything else."

After Pat Shurmur was fired following two seasons as Browns head coach and agreed to join Kelly's staff, Kyle Shurmur transferred from St. Edward (Ohio) to La Salle.

The 6-4, 215-pounder, who has committed to Vanderbilt, also excels in the pool, specializing in the 100-meter backstroke and the 50 freestyle. Contributing to a pair of relay wins, he helped the Explorers claim their third straight PIAA Class AAA swimming championship in March.

"It keeps me in great shape," Shurmur said. "My mom [Jennifer] was a swimmer, and my sisters swim. It's kind of a family thing."

La Salle football coach Drew Gordon tells the story of Joe Parisi, whose baseball squad won a second Class AAAA state crown in June, approaching Kyle at school about the swimming team's most recent accomplishment.

"Kyle turned to him," Gordon said, "and said, 'What's more important is that I congratulate you on your state championship.' The kid just gets it."

Jon Daniel Runyan, a 6-5, 280-pound tackle who also sees time on the defensive line, will follow in his father's footsteps by playing at Michigan. The elder Runyan, who did not seek reelection, was an all-Big Ten Conference selection.

After playing for the Moorestown Quakers in second and third grade, Jon Daniel Runyan opted to play flag football, as a QB and safety, instead of youth football with weight limits.

"My parents didn't want me playing against kids that were three or four years older than me," he said.

He returned to tackle football in eighth grade, playing receiver and safety for Mount Laurel's Fleetwood Indians. A two-way end for the Prep's freshman team, he was moved to offensive tackle the next year.

That brought instant comparisons to his larger-than-life father.

"The great thing about him is that he handles it well," Hawks coach Gabe Infante said of the younger Runyan. "He really doesn't care what people say."

Kyle Shurmur, soft-spoken with a dry sense of humor, completed 179 of 306 passes for 2,474 yards and 25 touchdowns in his first season with the Explorers, earning Inquirer second-team all-Southeastern Pennsylvania honors.

There were rough moments during an 8-3 campaign. In Week 2, he threw three interceptions and turnover-plagued La Salle lost to Imhotep Charter, 40-28, in a nonleague contest.

"A lot of last year was about getting a feel for the team," the 17-year-old said. "I tried to do too much at times. But it was a learning experience, and I'm better for it."

Pat Shurmur, 49, focuses on the bigger picture.

"I thought Kyle handed it pretty well," he said. "We talked about it a bunch. But when he comes home from a practice or game, I ask him how things went as his father and not as a coach."

Jon Daniel Runyan, a fixture at offensive tackle, played a key role in the Prep's drive to a 12-3 record and the PIAA Class AAAA state title last season.

"You could tell he had turned the corner," Infante said of the first-team all-area selection. "He was confident. The coaches knew he could get it done."

Runyan has hang-cleaned 300 pounds, bench-pressed 295, and squatted 425. He has been clocked at 5.1 seconds in the 40-yard dash. "He's got better feet than I ever did," said his father, 40.

Down the stretch last season, Runyan's size and aggressiveness also helped the Prep on the defensive line.

Of the comparisons to the hulking man who started 190 consecutive regular-season NFL games from 1997 to 2008, Jon Daniel said, "It's kind of annoying. I'm not going to be him. I just want to be me."

Runyan and the Hawks enter the season ranked No. 1 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer; Shurmur and the Explorers are No. 3.

La Salle lost twice to its archrival last season, by 35-28 in the regular season and by 30-20 in the Catholic League final.

"They bring back a lot of guys and are highly ranked," Kyle Shurmur said. "But when you're on the field, it's 11 vs. 11. The rankings mean nothing."

Runyan knows there's a strong likelihood of an early-November rematch, with a league title and berth in the District 12 final at stake.

"If that happens, it would be great," he said.

Meet the Players

                              Jon Daniel Runyan             Kyle Shurmur   

Age   17   17   

Year   Senior   Senior   

Height, weight   6-5, 280   6-4, 215   

Position   OL-DL   QB   

Birthplace   Houston   East Lansing, Mich.   

Hometown   Mount Laurel, N.J.   Philadelphia (Old City)   

Favorite pro athlete   LeSean McCoy   Tom Brady   

Favorite actor   Will Ferrell   Russell Crowe   

Favorite movie   Anchorman   Cinderella Man   

Favorite food   Chicken wings   Cheesesteak   

Favorite musician   Jason Aldean   Drake   

Favorite TV program   ESPN's SportsCenter   HBO's Hard Knocks   

No. 1 hobby   Playing golf   Playing Call of Duty on Xbox   

College   Michigan   Vanderbilt   

College major   Undecided   Undecided   

Parents   Jon and Loretta   Pat and Jennifer   

Siblings   Alyssa, 14; Bella, 12   Allyson, 22; Erica, 21; Claire, 11