More on tackle Damien Edwards ...

10

February

I was able to talk Saturday not only with the newest member of USF's recruiting class, Chandler (Ariz.) tackle Damien Edwards, but with the head coach and offensive line coach from his high school.

Head coach Jim Ewan and line coach Mike De La Torre had the same things to say about Edwards: great kid with a lot of potential, but not someone fans should expect to contribute at a BCS program as a freshman. Edwards is 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, but his coaches said he's just starting to develop as a football player. Edwards transferred into Chandler from nearby Mesquite High for his senior year, but his coaches were impressed by the way he drove over to Chandler after school four days a week last spring to work with the staff.

Edwards has a background as much in basketball as football -- his brother Gavin is a 6-foot-9 forward at Connecticut, and he was watching the Huskies on TV when we talked. Damien played basketball until his sophomore year as a center, and said Arizona didn't have football in junior high, so he played flag football until his freshman year. As expected, the basketball gives him good feet for his size and makes him more athletic than most 320-pounders. Ewan said a year in USF's conditioning program, with a regulated diet, would be a help for Edwards, who he said might ideally play in the 285-pound range. De La Torre said Edwards is coachable and isn't afraid to put in time to make himself better. "He's a really good kid, a good person to be around," he said. "He's a big guy with huge upside."

Edwards' father, Earl, played 11 years in the NFL, as a defensive lineman with the 49ers, Bills, Browns and Packers, playing with O.J. Simpson and for Bart Starr in Green Bay. He went to Blake High in Tampa before going to Wichita State, and played briefly in the CFL before playing in the NFL -- he was runner-up for NFL Rookie of the Year behind Joe Greene. He's a member of the Tampa Sports Hall of Fame, one of 52 local stars chosen by the Tampa Bay Sports Club.

His recruitment is a unique one, in that his brother Reggie lives in Tampa and would regularly tell him about USF's progress as a football program. They sent information to USF's coaches, who have been in contact with him for about a year. I've already seen some reaction to Ewan saying he's "a bit of a project," but I think Ewan just means he's a player you should evaluate in two years, not this fall. He drew interest from programs like Oregon, Colorado State and Arizona State, and said Fresno State was in the same discussions that USF was; he likes Tampa because he has family there. Northern Arizona had offered, and Ewan even mentioned Western New Mexico, a Division II program. But Chandler has produced NFL players like Terrell Suggs and Adam Archuleta, so their players have found success on the college level and beyond.

USF rarely strays outside Florida for recruits, and definitely has a limited history in the western half of the United State. So without looking at media guides, who are the other two former Bulls to hail from west of Louisiana?

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:10pm]

    

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