Author: Alex Nieves|Alex Nieves|Alex Nieves|Alex Nieves
After a long journey, the signal caller takes the helm of the offense
The football program at The Citadel, a public, military college in Charleston, South Carolina, had its share of ups and downs in the 2009 season. Then, in their eighth game against Samford University, the Bulldogs’ first and second string quarterbacks went down with injuries before the end of the first half. That is when a walk-on first-year, who had previously been so low on the depth chart that his jersey didn’t even have his last name sewn onto the back, took his first collegiate snap. With two minutes left in the first half, a 10-0 deficit, and a no name quarterback, the Bulldogs had no chance of coming out of the game with a positive result.
But Tommy Edwards (junior) did not get the message.
Edwards threw for 141 yards and two touchdown passes while guiding the Bulldogs to four touchdowns and a 28-16 win. In this moment, Edwards had realized that his dream of being a starting college quarterback was still very much a possibility. “That was the turning point in my football career.” Edwards said. “To this day I still get chills thinking about it.”
A Sherman Oaks, California native, Edwards dreamt of being a college quarterback for as long as he can remember. “As soon as I could walk I had a football in my hands,” Edwards said. “My first word was actually ball.” This dream, however, has not simply been handed to him on a silver platter.
He attended Ulysses S. Grant High School, where he did not earn the starting quarterback position until his senior year. That year, Edwards proved that he could get the job done, passing for 2,221 yards and 17 touchdowns, both school records, and eventually being named First Team All-City and All-East Valley League.
Although he finished his senior season with many successes under his belt, Edwards did not earn a scholarship to play football in college. He decided to attend The Citadel, a Division I football program, where he walked onto the football team as the fifth string quarterback. Edwards eventually worked his way up to third string and when the opportunity presented itself, he grabbed the starting job. He finished the season with 588 yards and six touchdowns in four games, two as a starter. But despite the talent Edwards demonstrated, the school decided to go in a different direction, installing a run-heavy, triple option style offense.
With the change in offensive philosophy at The Citadel, Edwards decided to transfer back to California, enrolling at Sacramento State University, which also has a Division I program. He was named the Offensive Scout Team MVP, an honor that comes with a lot of hard work and little recognition in his first season in Sacramento. However, things simply did not pan out and he once again decided to transfer, this time to Division III Occidental College.
Now, Edwards, who just recently turned 21, is ready to lead the Tigers into the 2012 season. It seems safe to say that he has nothing but high expectations for the team. “I think we should win a SCIAC championship,” Edwards said. “Anything else would be a failure.”
The other members of the Tigers squad have already taken notice of Edwards’ goals for the season, as well as his great work ethic and strong dedication to the team. These qualities are rubbing off on the rest of the players, who are very excited to have Edwards as their leader.
“We have a very complicated offense and it took Tommy only three months to learn it, it took our last quarterback a year and a half,” receiver Matt Tuckness (senior) said. “I expect to win SCIAC and Tommy is definitely the guy that can take us there.”
The coaching staff has also taken notice of a certain trait of Edwards, one that was likely forged through the difficult journey that has led him to Occidental. This trait has been his ability to handle adversity.
“If things go wrong he has the ability to forget that,” Head Coach Bill Redell said. “He doesn’t dwell on the negatives, he’s always looking forward to the next play.”
So with the 2012 season underway and two tough losses already in the books, Edwards might already have to display some of this resilience if the Tigers are to reach their goal of a conference championship. But if one were to take anything from Edwards’ past, it is that nobody should ever count him out.
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