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January 7, 2010MORE: Army Bowl starters announced | Army All-American Bowl coverage
SAN ANTONIO - Silas Redd's father doesn't do fist bumps. He does handshakes. Mean, nasty, bone-crushing handshakes that are legendary with Redd, fellow Penn State commit Khairi Fortt and anyone who dares challenge the man with the firm grip.
"If you don't know him you're not really expecting it at all," Fortt said. "You're just meeting him and you try to give him your firm handshake and it overpowers you by a great amount. Then he looks at you, smiles, just to make sure you feel it.
"If you try to squeeze him harder he'll grab your forearm and your hand at the same time and he smiles and talks to you at the same time. He'll crush your hand for 20 seconds. He keeps shaking it just looking at you."
Redd's father, Silas Sr., is an ex-Marine and has spent 22 years in law enforcement. He's now a special investigations officer for juveniles with the Stamford Police Department and had served as head of security at the United Nations in New York City.
He's clean-cut, buff and doesn't play games - especially with his handshake, which has been the talk of college coaches who tried to recruit his son. The New York Times described it as, "a handshake of a general."
"I was warned by at least three different colleges how to handle the handshake," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "They said it was one of the hardest handshakes you're ever going to experience. They gave me different strategies and I didn't believe them. I didn't listen to any of it. I thought how hard could it be?
"I was told to go in not aggressively, not hard, because if you do that, that's challenging him and he will break your hand. If you go in too soft you're definitely going to get your hand broken. You have to go in firmly yet not aggressively and try to avoid direct, challenging eye contact. I try to avoid shaking his hand now but he doesn't do fist bumps so there's nothing you can do."
Redd, from Stamford (Conn.) King & Low Heywood Thomas, said his father used to use his handshake as punishment when he'd act up. The grip is that intense, that overpowering. Even at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds of chiseled muscle, Redd hardly stands a chance against his old man.
"What he does is he comes at you quick so you're not ready for it," Redd said. "He's squeezing and squeezing and if you're sticking in there with him he'll stick the left hand on the forearm and he'll squeeze that."
Fortt, also from Stamford, and Redd laughed about the handshake after Tuesday's practice here at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
There are sure to be more laughs between them when they room together at Penn State in a few weeks. Both are early enrollees and have known each other since middle school. Fortt and Redd are the top two players in the Connecticut state rankings.
Redd, rated as the fifth-best running back by Rivals.com, committed in early May to the Nittany Lions and he'll wear No. 25, which was also worn by legendary Penn State running back Curt Warner.
"I don't want to compare myself to him but I definitely want to revive that number at Penn State," Redd said.
Playing for Joe Paterno will be something special as well.
"At first it was weird meeting him and you're like wow, this guy is really old," Redd said. "He's sharp as a tack, he's sane, he's a down-to-earth guy. He's a comedian so I'm really happy and honored to play for him."
Fortt, the second-best outside linebacker by Rivals.com, did not commit in the spring and needed some coaxing from Redd, his workout partner, to pick the Big Ten school. Early in his recruitment, Fortt said he wasn't even considering the Nittany Lions. After hearing good things from Redd and then taking his visit to State College, he knew it was the place for him.
"He didn't think I was going to Penn State and at first I wasn't looking at Penn State at all," Fortt said. "Then after I took a visit and got to know some of the people and him being constantly in my ear at our training facility, talking about Penn State, we are Penn State."
Redd said: "I wasn't annoying. That was my whole thing. I didn't want to be annoying. I wanted to sneak a little comment in and I guess that stuck. What I think really did it was the fact that I wasn't annoying. The fact that I was like I'll be happy whatever you do but I'd love if you went to Penn State with me.
"We're from the same area and we're good friends, so I think that would be a good idea. I guess he thought it was, too."
The two shook on it.