Edwards has the size, strength to be 3-4 nose tackle
At 6-foot-3 and 320 pounds, probably has some trouble finding things that fit properly — even his practice jersey is a snug fit, as it usually rides up over his stomach.
However, the senior nose tackle from Long Beach, California, fits perfectly into the Vandals’ new 3-4 defensive scheme, which Mike Breske, the former Washington State defensive coordinator, implemented when he accepted the same position at Idaho.
“I think it’s a natural fit for him,” said Kenny Holmes, Idaho’s new defensive line coach. “He’ll be a huge asset to plug up that middle and then also being able to run down plays from the inside.”
There won’t be too much of a learning curve for Edwards, as he lined up at nose tackle in the 4-3 defensive formation Idaho used last season. Despite the familiarity with the position, Edwards said there are still differences that will take some getting used to.
“This year, especially with the new defensive staff, it is more tempo,” he said. “(Breske) wants us to always keep running … You gotta make plays. It’s my last year. I got nothing but to just ball out, no excuses.”
While the sheer size of Edwards is intimidating in itself, it’s his strength that sets him apart from the rest. Idaho coach Paul Petrino said Edwards is one of the strongest players he’s ever coached.
“He’s grown up, he’s pushing himself, going hard all the time,” Petrino said. “Look to see him have a great senior year. He needs to step up and know that he’s the leader and he’s going to lead those guys and it’s his time — time to step up and get it done.”
Idaho strength coach Jake Scharnhorst said Edwards is the team’s strongest overall player in the three main lifts they do. He said Edwards power cleans 379 pounds, bench presses 420 pounds and squats 540 pounds.
Scharnhorst said Edwards is spending the same amount of time as everybody else in the weight room, but some players are just gifted with better genes than others.
“Genetics, obviously you have to have good genetics,” Scharnhorst said. “Otherwise everyone could be that strong. Everybody has a ceiling in terms of their genetics. So that’s part of it, and work ethic — the way he trains, the type of weight he handles.”
Edwards echoed what Scharnhorst said, and gave credit to his family for his size and strength.
“(In) my family, strength always came, I would say naturally,” Edwards said. “But you always got to build on that. If you’re strong, you always gotta be stronger … You gotta have a mindset like that.”
Holmes said Edwards impressed him from the first he was able to watch his game tape. He said Edwards is athletic and light on his feet for a guy of his stature.
“He reminds me of Joe Salave’a, who I played with Joe in Tennessee,” Holmes said of his former teammate from the Tennessee Titans. “(Salave’a) was strong, athletic, could move, able to get off the block, rush the pass and (Edwards) is the same kind of player.”
While nose tackle isn’t the flashiest or a high-profile position, there’s a high demand for good nose tackles in the NFL. Vince Wilfork has enjoyed a successful 11-year career at the position, and recently signed a $5 million contract with the Houston Texans.
Holmes said he thinks Edwards has a good shot at making a career as a nose tackle in the 3-4 formation.
“I think that’s what he’ll play moving on, and years after he leaves here,” Holmes said.
Korbin McDonald can be reached at email@example.com