Mario Edwards Jr. ready for bigger role
March, 29, 2013
By Andrea Adelson | ESPN.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- He was the most prized recruit in all the nation in 2012, a player every major program desperately wanted. And, well, Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., readily acknowledges he let the hype get to his head.
That would be the biggest reason he arrived on campus last summer weighing 315 pounds -- 30 pounds more than his ideal weight in high school. Edwards Jr. was nowhere near being ready to play right out of the gate because he was so out of shape. He knew it. So when coach Jimbo Fisher decided to redshirt him, Edwards had no room to complain.
The world would have to wait to see why coaches so badly wanted him on their team.
It turns out, though, that we did not have to wait long. Losing Brandon Jenkins forced coaches to pull his redshirt almost immediately. Another injury late in the season to Tank Carradine made Edwards' journey all the more improbable.
Incredibly enough, Edwards ended up starting the two biggest games of the season after believing he would not play at all in 2012.
"It was definitely a blessing," Edwards Jr. told ESPN.com. "I thought I was going to redshirt so I wasn’t really in the playbook like I needed to be but as the season progressed and injuries came, I had a chance to start. Jimbo told me to just be patient. So being patient really paid off."
Edwards played in 11 games, but made his first start in the ACC championship game against Georgia Tech after Carradine tore his ACL.
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsMario Edwards Jr. made a big impact in the ACC championship game, his first start at Florida State.
No pressure or anything.
Edwards admits he was nervous before the game. But he spoke to his father, Mario Edwards Sr., and Carradine and they just told him, "You’ve done it in practice just translate it over. I calmed down and did what I needed to do."
What he did was post seven tackles in a performance that gave the nation a glimpse at what they are going to see in 2013, when Edwards becomes a full-time starter. His weight, though, continues to vex him. Edwards ballooned up to 315 before he arrived in Tallahassee because he just ate what he wanted.
"I let the hype get to my head and enjoyed all the recruiting visits and did not really focus on coming here to play," Edwards Jr. said. "They recruited me to come here and play. My mind wasn’t where it needed to be."
What got his mind where it needed to be?
"Coming here and seeing that everybody was just as big if not bigger, fast if not faster and just knowing that if I want to play I have to go out here and work. It’s not going to be given," Edwards Jr. said.
By the time he started against Georgia Tech, he was down to 282 pounds. Chips and fast food were off his menu. Smaller portions, protein and veggies were on the menu. But the toughest part for Edwards Jr. is staying disciplined. He is up to 288 and working hard to get back down to 280, where coaches want him this season.
"Even though it’s OK to have a cheat day if you want to eat some things you like to eat, you’ve got to understand it’s a business and they want you here at this weight and in order for you to play and produce like they want you to and they need you to, you have to be at that weight," he said.
His two biggest critiques? "Keeping my weight down and using my hands more when it comes to getting off blocks and pass-rushing."
Two major areas to work on as the spotlight turns squarely on him this season.
Projecting Impact Teams in 2015 Recruiting
Final Washington State 45 Colorado State 48 Final 20 Fresno State 20 25 USC 45 Final Buffalo 24 San Diego State 49 Final Tulane 21 Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Final Pittsburgh 30 Bowling Green 27 Final Utah State 21 23 Northern Illinois 14
Final Marshall 31 Maryland 20 Final Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 Final Brigham Young 16 Washington 31
Final Rutgers 16 Notre Dame 29 Final Cincinnati 17 North Carolina 39 Final Miami (FL) 9 18 Louisville 36 Final Michigan 14 Kansas State 31
Final Middle Tennessee 6 Navy 24 Final Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17 Final 10 Oregon 30 Texas 7 Final 14 Arizona State 23 Texas Tech 37
Final Arizona 42 Boston College 19 Final Virginia Tech 12 17 UCLA 42 Final Rice 7 Mississippi State 44 Final 24 Duke 48 21 Texas A&M 52
Final Nebraska 24 22 Georgia 19 Final UNLV 14 North Texas 36 Final Iowa 14 16 LSU 21 Final 19 Wisconsin 24 9 South Carolina 34 Final 5 Stanford 20 4 Michigan State 24 Final 15 UCF 52 6 Baylor 42
Final 13 Oklahoma State 31 8 Missouri 41 Final 12 Clemson 40 7 Ohio State 35