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Kim Royston excited to face former teammates

CHICAGO -- Kim Royston lifted Paul Bunyan's Axe with the rest of his Wisconsin teammates in 2006 and 2007. Now he wants to get his hands on the trophy again.

But this time, he plans to do so as a Minnesota Golden Gopher.

Royston, a safety who transferred from Wisconsin to Minnesota following the 2007 season, already has a unique perspective on college football's oldest rivalry. He plans to make history Oct. 9 in Madison.

"It would mean the world to me," Royston said. "Not only knowing how much that axe means to Minnesota and the Minnesota fans, but also my predicament. I came from [Wisconsin], I broke my leg [this spring], I've been through a lot to get this point.

"When we win that game and I'm the first one running across the field to grab that axe, it's going to be so surreal. I think about it almost every day."

There's only one problem with Royston's plan.

"I'll clothesline him before he gets there," Wisconsin safety Jay Valai said with a wicked grin.

Royston and Valai are actually great friends to this day and used to call themselves the "Bashing Brothers" in Madison.

"We used to come in for second-team defense and see how many people we could hurt," said Valai, recalling a vicious hit Royston put on offensive lineman Josh Oglesby. "It's good seeing him here."

Royston had a chance to reunite with his Wisconsin teammates this week at Big Ten media days. He went out for deep-dish pizza Monday with Valai, Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, Wisconsin running back John Clay and Minnesota defensive tackle Brandon Kirksey.

"It was a little awkward seeing [Wisconsin] coach [Bret] Bielema at first, but he wished me good luck," Royston said.

"We definitely have no hard feelings right now -- until we get out there at Camp Randall and I'm running across the field to get that axe."