March 6, 2012
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- There will be a familiar name on Florida State's roster next season. And he'll be wearing a familiar number.
The only difference is his head coach and position.
Just like his dad did from in the late 1990s for Bobby Bowden, Mario Edwards, Jr. will play football at FSU starting this summer when he moves from Texas from Tallahassee to join Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles. He'll also wear No. 15 like Mario, Sr. did until he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2000.
But unlike his namesake, Edwards, Jr. isn't a 6-foot-2, 195-pound cornerback. Instead, the nation's No. 1-ranked prospect is a 6-foot-4, 290-plus pound defensive end that reeked havoc on opposing offenses as a prep star at Ryan High School in Denton, Texas.
"He's big. He's strong," Fisher said. "He can burst and have speed. But at the same time when you want to play a power game where you've got to sit down in the run game on a 330-pound, 6-foot-6 offensive tackle he can hold the point in the run, too. If you want to stick him down inside and mismatch him on a guard on third down and put faster guys on the edge you can do that.
"There's a lot of versatility with the things he can do."
Edwards, Jr.'s versatility extends to the out-of-this-world athleticism he'll bring with him to Florida's capitol.
It's that athleticism that helps him to routinely get in the backfield and harass quarterbacks or stop the run. It also helps Edwards, Jr. do something that isn't necessary on the football field nonetheless still impressive.
"He's a beast," said Edwards, Jr.'s primary recruiter, FSU wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey. 'He can stand flat-footed and do a backflip."
The younger Edwards won't have to do many backflips once he gets to college but he will have to compete for playing time despite his stature as a prospect.
FSU returns seniors Brandon Jenkins and Cornellius Carradine as well as standout junior Bjoern Werner so immediate playing time is no guarantee. Plus, Giorgio Newberry is coming off a freshman-year redshirt and Toshmon Stevens is still an option at defensive end as well. Fellow signee Chris Casher joins the mix with Edwards, Jr. this summer too.
But even though there are a number of bodies capable of rushing the passer for the 2012 season, that won't be the case the following year. Jenkins, Carradine and Stevens all graduate and Werner will have the option to declare early for the NFL.
"Those guys are going to be leaving so right off the bat they're going to come in [and] learn from these guys," Fisher said Edwards and Casher. "Be able to see how we do things, be able to have a mentor right there in front of you and have a chance to compete for a starting job if you're the best player."
Edwards, Jr. was one of the first 2012 prospects to verbally commit to the Seminoles when he did so Mach 15, 2011.
Despite the recruiting pressure that one might expect for a consensus five-star athlete, Edwards, Jr. will continue the family legacy in Tallahassee later this year.
"It was tremendous what he did sticking with us all the way through recruiting after he committed," Fisher said. "It helped build this class."
Number watch: "His daddy played here; wore No. 15," Dawsey said. "He can't wear 17. He's going to follow in his daddy's footsteps and wear 15."