Jon Runyan eager to carry on father's NFL legacy

New Packers offensive lineman almost missed call from Green Bay

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GREEN BAY – Jon Runyan was in the midst of pressing send on a text message to his agent when the Michigan offensive lineman's phone screen switched to a call from Green Bay.

Having already committed his thumb to the text, Runyan mistakenly declined the call. Panic-stricken, the 6-foot-4, 306-pound offensive lineman tried to redial but to no avail.

"I tried to call back and my call wouldn't go through," Runyan said. "I had no idea what I just did."

Fortunately, the Packers called back and notified the Wolverines' two-year starting left tackle they were selecting him with the first of their three sixth-round picks (No. 192 overall).

Runyan is the son and namesake of former Pro Bowl right tackle Jon Runyan, a fourth-round pick in 1996 who played in more than 200 NFL games with Houston/Tennessee, Philadelphia and San Diego.

Naturally, there is a certain amount of pressure that comes along with being the son of an NFL player, but the younger Runyan relished it. As a child, he spent time around Eddie George, Brian Dawkins and many other NFL greats his father played alongside.

Runyan also was in the stands during the fourth-and-26 game between Green Bay and Philadelphia, a playoff loss that lives in infamy for many Packers fans to this day.

His father retired when Runyan was in seventh grade. Born in New Jersey, the younger Runyan played high school football in Pennsylvania and chose to follow in his dad's footsteps at the University of Michigan.

There, Runyan became a two-time All-Big Ten left tackle for the Wolverines and was twice honored with the Hugh H. Rader Memorial Award given to the team's top offensive lineman. He and his dad are the only father-son duo to win the award in program history.

"He's always been really hands off with everything," Runyan said. "He's always been there as a resource for me, kind of an invaluable resource. Something that not a lot of people get, obviously. Like he just told me a couple minutes ago, 'The work is just starting.'

"Everything I've done throughout my career has been reset. Now, fortunately I have this opportunity to go out to Green Bay and prove myself at the next level, and I couldn't be more excited about that."

Runyan ran a 5.08-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine with 24 bench reps and 107-inch broad jump to get on the radar of Green Bay's personnel department.

While his dad made his name in the NFL at right tackle, the younger Runyan is open to moving inside if that's where the Packers want him to play. More than anything, he's eager to prove himself and join his dad in the NFL fraternity.

After sharing a lifetime of football memories together, father and son added one more Saturday afternoon when the Packers called Jon back and told him his own NFL dream was about to come true.

"When everybody saw me walking around talking on the phone, everybody figured out what was going on," Runyan said. "It kind of surprised them. I let them try to figure it out on their own. He was excited. You could see the joy in his eyes and his sense of pride he was feeling."

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