Thursday, July 18, 2013
FSU Countdown: No. 12 Mario Edwards Jr.
By David M. Hale
Throughout the summer, Nole Nation will be counting down the 40 players we're projecting to make the biggest impact on the Seminoles' 2013 season, taking into consideration everything from experience to potential to their spot on the current depth chart.
Mario Edwards Jr. gave a glimpse of his immense potential during the final two games of his freshman season.
What he's done: The consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation a year ago, Edwards arrived at Florida State with much fanfare -- and more than a few extra pounds. Pegged as a pass rusher, Edwards opened fall camp checking in at more than 300 pounds, and it was clear from the outset he wasn't ready to contribute to an already stacked defense. He was slated to redshirt -- much to his chagrin -- but when Brandon Jenkins was lost for the year with a foot injury, Edwards was given a reprieve. He saw minimal action through the next 11 games, but a second season-ending injury to a defensive end finally opened up a full-time job. Edwards started the ACC championship game and Orange Bowl and accounted for 10 tackles as FSU won both.
Where he's at: The strong finish to his 2012 campaign offered ample optimism, and when Jenkins, Cornellius Carradine and Bjoern Werner all headed to the NFL this offseason, Edwards became the de facto No. 1 pass rusher on the team. Still, his turn in spring practice wasn't entirely inspiring. He'd clearly shed some weight, but new ends coach Sal Sunseri wants more progress. He'd clearly learned the ropes a bit, but Sunseri still feels Edwards is relying too much on natural ability. But the bottom line remains that Edwards is both the most talented defensive end FSU has and a virtual lock for a starting job.
What's to come: This is the big question. Edwards' ceiling is immensely high, and he could easily blossom into one of the most feared defenders in the nation this season -- particularly with Sunseri and Jeremy Pruitt's prodding. Of course, Edwards' lack of preparation in advance of his freshman season, his occasional pouting after he was pushed down the depth chart, and his continued struggles with his weight are all red flags. But if motivation is the key, FSU appears to have the right staff in place -- from Sunseri to Edwards' father, Mario Sr. -- and there's no argument that he'll be heavily involved in the scheme in 2013. Where he goes from there is almost entirely up to him, but the odds are, even if he doesn't reach his potential, he'll still be pretty good.