Bryan Edwards, a rising true sophomore for the South Carolina Gamecocks, is poised for a huge 2017 season. Edwards was a 4-star high school recruit that had a prolific career at Conway High School in South Carolina. He was a big-play machine that finished his senior year with 969 yards on 53 catches and 9 TDs (18.3 yards per catch). Those numbers would have been even greater had a non-contact meniscus injury not ended his senior season in late October. Injuries are the only thing that has been able to slow the mountain of a man. Recovering from the knee injury, Edwards enrolled early at South Carolina in January of 2016 and then proceeded to injure his hamstring early in his freshman campaign. Edwards played through those injuries but then developed a sports hernia that really flared up against Florida late in the year.
On top of battling through injuries, South Carolina cycled through three different QBs throughout the season before finally burning Jake Bentley’s redshirt in game seven against UMass. The offense came alive and went from 14 points per game to 27 points per game. To illustrate how bad things were, Edwards caught his first collegiate career TD against UMass which was actually the first receiving TD of the season by a Gamecock WR, and that game was played on the fourth Saturday of October.
Edwards finished the year with 590 yards on 44 grabs with 4 TDs. That line was good enough for second all-time as a freshman at South Carolina behind only Alshon Jeffrey who had 763 yards on 46 catches and 6 TDs. Edwards underwent surgery to repair the sports hernia this offseason and only started lifting again in mid-February. The fact that Edwards is still recovering and was able to dominate the spring scrimmage the way he did bodes well for his sophomore campaign. The big man was unguardable on vertical routes and finished the scrimmage with 4 catches for 111 yards and 2 TDs. Edwards was robbed of another big gainer over the top as he was questionably ruled out of bounds by the official.
Here is a look at Edwards in the spring game winning on those vertical routes.
This ability is something that Edwards has consistently demonstrated dating back to his high school days at Conway.
At 6’3″ and 210 pounds, Edwards provides a big target to throw at and also has an elite ability to go up and get the football. If you are a fan of watching former Clemson WR Mike Williams go up and get it, then I know you will enjoy watching his fellow Palmetto State WR work. Here is a clip of the true freshman abusing former Gator and standout corner, Teez Tabor.
It wasn’t just Tabor that fell victim to his hops and great hands.
Edwards also shows great concentration and focus while using his strong hands to win on a variety of routes. The first clip is a nifty one-handed snag on an out route for a TD he made in high school.
Edwards was a punt returner in high school and has great hips, feet and a knack for making guys miss in the open field. In this first clip, Edwards catches the screen and runs through the All-American Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham’s tackle.
In Edwards, I see a player that is absolutely dominant when the ball is in the air. If the ball is up for grabs, it’s his. As you can see in the footage above, he possesses excellent athleticism, instincts, and ability to create yards after the catch on short and intermediate throws. While he is highly unlikely to be the fastest WR in the 2019 class, he shows that he has very nice long speed and ability to burst through cuts. ESPN has his 40 time listed at 4.53 which is quite similar to the player he reminds me of most – Dez Bryant. Physically, he has a similarly imposing figure to the Dallas Cowboys WR and Edwards boasts that physique as a rising sophomore in college.
The deck was stacked against Edwards in many ways during his freshman season; from multiple injuries to the lack of continuity at QB, there were plenty of challenges that Edwards faced and still showed tremendous upside with nice production. In a recent devy mock draft, Edwards was taken at 2.08. I was not participating, or he wouldn’t have lasted that long. I believe Edwards is the centerpiece of a very talented 2019 WR class.
Click here to see more of Bryan Edwards in action.
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