Osage's Drew Edwards was selected for one of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl games on December 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Drew Edwards decided to find out what he was capable of.
With his senior year at School of the Osage on the horizon, the linebacker who has also spent time at quarterback and tight end for the Indians, wanted to see if there may be a future at the next level. Behind the encouragement of his coach Devin Johnson, Edwards made a trip to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph on April 20 to participate in a combine with other talented football players and work with college coaches.
Well, it turns out that things went fairly well for the 6-foot-2, 195-pound linebacker as he was not only invited to participate in a super regional at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (home of the Dallas Cowboys) on June 29 and 30, but was also chosen amongst players from that super regional to participate in one of the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl games on December 16 in the same venue. Whatever happens this season for the Indians, Edwards will get to step on a gridiron at least one more time and all it required was simply taking a chance.
“It was open to anyone. Coach Johnson was like, ‘No camps hurt to go to,’ so I went,” Edwards recalled. “It was pretty cool. We had a big group that came and showed up pretty well.”
Edwards decided to participate as a linebacker because that is where he had the most film and the position he felt he had the most success with. According to the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl website, Edwards was one of 68 players from various midwestern states that participated in the “Heartland Regional” and one of just 10 linebackers.
Fortunately, he stood out and got the invitation to do more. His older cousin Jason Edwards, a 2017 Osage graduate who is now a track and field athlete at the University of Missouri, also received the same honor and privilege.
“We really encourage our guys to go to different camps. The way college recruiting works now, it is very beneficial and cost-effective to go to different schools and you are getting looked at by a lot of different college coaches,” Johnson noted. “Honestly, I like for our guys to go just so they kind of see themselves against good competition and see where they are at. When you stay at Osage, you don’t really get that broad spectrum of how good of athletes there are out there.
“We really encourage them to go test the waters, get recognized by coaches, learn some different fundamentals, drills and terminology, but more importantly kind of gauge where they are at against the best athletes in the state.”
Not only that, for many high school football players it may be the last opportunity they have to line up on the field. Another event Johnson and his staff push for their players is the Missouri Lions All-Star game that features standout high school seniors across the state every summer. Some of those players will be heading off to play college football in the near future and some will not.
“Hopefully they get to go on and play at the next level, but for 90 percent of high school athletes- once they are done with high school they are done,” Johnson pointed out.
“For a lot of kids that might be the last football game they ever play.”
Edwards’ own future is still unwritten, but once he made an impression at one of the 22 regionals across the country, he found himself participating in one of just six super regionals. There were 194 kids listed at the “Southwest Super Regional” in Arlington and Edwards was one of 38 linebackers.
“It was amazing. Walking into the stadium I was speechless,” Edwards recalled of the Cowboys’ venue also known as “Jerry World” referring to team owner Jerry Jones. “It was just massive. I took the opportunity to show out, played really well, showed what I could do and show my knowledge of the game. They liked what I did and I ended up getting an invite to play in their Blue-Grey All-American game.”
The players participated in various non-padded drills and also had their 40-yard dash and shuttle times measured along with their bench press reps and broad jump distances. Edwards noted there some fairly talented kids around, including five-star athletes, and he did not hesitate to appreciate the opportunity to be there.
“You had to perform at the camp and had to just really be coachable and relate to the coaches,” said Edwards who was one of just 14 players at the super regional from the state of Missouri.
“It taught me how to relate what they are teaching and coaching us in one-on-one and live situations. You can prepare as much as you want, but if it is not game-like you are not going to use it. Translating that to the game and live scenarios, that really helped.”
Johnson was glad to see one of his own get a different insight and perspective. The coach noted that he and his staff may point out different things that will be required to play at the next level, but college coaches can shed even more light on what it will actually take to play the college game.
“When you hear it from a college coach it is a little bit different. He has taken that back with him,” Johnson remarked. “He is really trying to amp up his training in the weight room, has gotten a lot stronger, has gotten a lot faster and has run very well at those camps and combines. Physically, you are seeing it in practice and he is one of the more physical kids that we have.”
While the physical attributes certainly exist, it does not tell the full story.
“Not only he is a good athlete, he is a great kid and leader. He has been consistently showing up every day for six years since his seventh grade year,” Johnson said. “He knows our staff, knows what we expect and he can really model that for the other guys. The underclassmen really look up to him. He brings three or four kids- I mean his truck is loaded with kids he brings every morning- and that is just the kind of kid he is.
“He will do whatever it takes to be successful and I think that is what the coaches kind of saw in him as well.”
Edwards will participate in the East vs. West game at AT&T Stadium on December 16 and it is one of four different bowl games that will also take place at prominent venues like Raymond James Stadium (home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Mercedes Benz Stadium (home of the Atlanta Falcons). The game can be seen on the Impact Football Network and kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.