Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on Tuesday compared rookie wide receiver Bryan Edwards to Carr’s former Fresno State teammate and current Packers’ star Davante Adams. On Friday one of Edwards’ high school coaches said he has long seen similarities to another perennial All-Pro.
“He’s always reminded me of A.J. Green,” said Conway (S.C.) head coach Carlton Terry, who was an assistant when Edwards played there and coached against Green in high school. “They both just have that ability to make plays at receiver and return punts. Just men on the field in comparison to the other players. Not only did they stand out vertically, but for big men to have that athleticism is just so rare.”
Edwards’ natural gifts were evident from the moment he walked into Conway High School as a 13-year-old freshman.
He started out playing JV, with rules in place at the time allowing students to play both JV and varsity. But before long, then-head coach Chuck Jordan realized Edwards needed to be playing exclusively on Friday nights.
Jordan says Edwards possessed a rare combination. He was talented with a lot of natural athletic ability and was a good student who was humble and down-to-earth.
“You could just tell it from day one,” Jordan says of Edwards’ talent. “The thing that made him so special is he was the complete package. It’s just so rare to get a kid with his kind of talent level and all the intangibles as well. He was 13 doing things on the field he shouldn’t be able to do.”
Jordan cited as special the aggressive way Edwards attacks the football, his physicality and his ability to high point the ball, which along with his 6-foot-3, 212-pound frame make him such a dominant receiver.
“Bryan seemed to be able to adjust in the air,” Jordan said. “Very few kids can do that. But he had the ability to move in the air just as if he had his feet on the darn ground. It’s kind of hard to explain. I haven’t seen that very often.”
It hasn’t taken Carr long to make some of the same observations. The Raiders believe they got a steal drafting Edwards in the third round. He could have risen dramatically up the draft boards had he been healthy during the pre-draft process, but he broke his foot in a workout and did not participate in the NFL combine
Now that his foot is fully healed, Edwards is once again looking like a first-round talent.
“Bryan is a very violent route runner and that’s a good thing,” Carr said. “Then when the ball is in the air, he reminds me of Davante. Someone where there’s just a trust. I could throw it up one-on-one and those 50/50 balls are 98/2 for us and the two being something fluky happened like his shoe came off.
“He’s a guy that can not only use his physicality in the route, but also when the ball is in the air.”
At South Carolina, Edwards caught 234 passes for 3,045 yards and 22 touchdowns in his four years with the Gamecocks.
His success there backed up everything the folks back in Conway believed about him.
“We all expected (him to be an NFL talent),” Terry said. “Bryan always excelled, even as a young player. He was so far above his peers talent-wise. But when he went to Carolina and did as well as he did, we felt our judgments were justified. Him going there and excelling confirmed our thoughts and beliefs.”
Now they get to find out if his skills translate to the pros. Jordan, who believes a large contingent from the town will make the 150-mile trek to Charlotte to see Edwards’ pro debut against the Panthers, has no reason to doubt his protege will succeed.
He also believes Edwards can emerge as a quiet leader.
“The neat thing about him was he never acted the part of superstar,” Jordan said. “I think that’s probably the part that goes unnoticed. He’s such an athlete and has such great ball skills, you tend to forget the impact that hard-working, quiet demeanor has on the rest of the team.
“He was a tremendous leader for us and was never vocal. He’s just a very humble kid that loved the game and played the game the right way. All of those things are very rare in a kid with that kind of talent.”