Edwards making most of starting chance as senior
Today's Times has a feature on senior offensive guard Damien Edwards, who is holding off challengers as the Bulls' starting left guard, excited to have an opportunity to contribute after four seasons of limited playing time.
Something I wasn't able to get into today's story was a conversation yesterday with Edwards' father Earl, who spent 11 years in the NFL and is a member of the Tampa Sports Hall of Fame after graduating from Blake High in 1964.
"I see a tremendous difference in him," Edwards said of his son. "I think the realization that he only has one year left has really established some urgency. ... He has a great heart. I love his heart. I'm just really proud that he hung in there and is getting a chance to play."
Earl Edwards himself is a great story -- he moved to Tampa in fourth grade, starred at Blake and played college football at Wichita State, which dropped its football program in 1986; he went there because the head coach at the University of Tampa, Marcelino "Chelo" Huerta, had left to go to Wichita. Guess who his assistant coach was at Wichita after his first year on campus? A former Shockers player named Bill Parcells. "I always tell everybody I was the best player he didn't know what to do with," said Edwards, who played in the CFL on the offensive line, then played defensive tackle in the NFL. Edwards finished second in the NFL Rookie of the Year voting in 1969 to the Steelers' Joe Greene.
Edwards and his wife live in Phoenix but get to several Bulls games each year - they'll have a short trip for the Nevada game in Reno next month. Another one of his sons, Reggie, lives in Tampa, and another, Gavin, is now back at Connecticut to finish his degree after playing professional basketball in Korea, China and Greece in the last two years.