|« Struggling Black Bears Eye Rivalry Turnaround||Elon hunkers down, tries to dig out of hole from sluggish start »|
Edwards proves a diamond in the rough for Southeast Missouri State
Miles Edwards never even considered a college football career until Southeast Missouri State coach Tony Samuel spotted him on film while looking at another player.
Things have worked out well for both parties because Edwards has been among Southeast’s top wide receivers since his freshman season, and the senior caught his 100th career pass earlier this year.
“Miles has done a lot of good things since he’s been here,” Samuel said.
Consistency has marked Edwards’ time at Southeast. He has caught a pass in 35 of his 37 collegiate games entering Saturday’s matchup at defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Illinois.
“Coach Brink speaks on it all day, every day, being consistent,” said Edwards of Southeast wide receivers coach Lorenzo Brinkley. “Consistency plays a huge role in being successful.”
Edwards, who has caught 103 career passes, is tied for third in program history with 14 career receiving touchdowns. He ranks 10th in receptions per game.
“I try not to worry too much about individual stats. I’m more team oriented,” said the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Edwards, who added with a laugh: “Is it immodest to say I’m modest?”
Edwards is a native of Sicklerville, N.J., a community of about 45,000 located roughly 30 minutes from Philadelphia.
Edwards was a track standout in the hurdles and jumps while also putting together an impressive high school football career.
“I was a track man. I didn’t even want to play [college] football,” Edwards said. “Basically coach Samuel was looking at our quarterback and they saw me on film.
“That’s how they found me, and my track coach convinced me to sign.”
Edwards, one of seven New Jersey products on Southeast’s roster, hasn’t regretted his change of plans.
“I wouldn’t do anything different,” he said.
Edwards is tied for the team lead with 12 receptions while leading Southeast with a 16-yard average that ranks among the best in the OVC.
Edwards also ranks among the OVC leaders with an average of 48 yards receiving per game.
While Edwards was solid during his first three seasons, Samuel believes he has elevated his performance this year.
“It doesn’t always show up in the stats the things he’s doing,” Samuel said. “I like his energy this year. It’s a different kind of energy.”
Edwards said it’s simply a matter of having no regrets in his final college season.
“I’ve had my ups and downs since I’ve been here, but this year has been pretty consistent. I feel pretty positive,” Edwards said. “Coach Brink always says when the music stops, the party’s over. When you’re done, it’s over.
“This could be the last time I put on the helmet. Why not go all out?”
Edwards had a big true freshman season in 2007, making the all-OVC newcomer team after leading Southeast with 34 catches. He averaged 14.1 yards per reception and scored seven touchdowns.
Edwards has kept up a solid pace even though Southeast is not a prolific passing team.
Edwards was second on the Redhawks with 31 receptions as a sophomore, averaging 13.9 yards per catch and scoring three touchdowns.
He caught 26 passes, averaging 14.2 yards per reception and leading the Redhawks with four receiving touchdowns last season.
While steady and consistent, Edwards also has been a big-play receiver. He had a catch of at least 53 yards in each of his first three seasons, including an 80-yarder for a touchdown as a sophomore. His longest reception this year is 39 yards.
“I feel like I can do a lot of different things,” Edwards said.
That includes running the ball. Southeast often involves receivers in its option game, and Edwards has rushed five times for 33 yards after never previously having a collegiate carry.
“He’s capable of doing that type of thing,” Samuel said.
Edwards has not caught a touchdown pass but still has found the end zone through four games this season.
Edwards scored his first career rushing touchdown from 9 yards out after taking a pitch from junior quarterback Matt Scheible during Saturday’s 23-21 win over Tennessee Tech in Southeast’s home opener.
“It was probably one of the easiest touchdowns I’ve had. The blocking was great. I didn’t have to do much,” Edwards said. “I’m still working on it [running the ball]. It’s a work in progress, but it’s fun.”
While Edwards has compiled impressive numbers, his first three Southeast seasons saw the Redhawks go 9-25, including 4-19 in the OVC.
No wonder Edwards, like all his teammates, is so excited about the Redhawks’ 3-1 start that includes a first-place 2-0 OVC record.
“Winning always makes everything better,” said Edwards, a corporate communications major who hopes to operate his own business some day.
Southeast, riding a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2003, has won its first two OVC games for just the second time since joining the league in 1991.
“We felt like we could do this my freshman year,” Edwards said. “It’s sad it took three years for us to realize it, but sometimes God has a plan and you have to go by his schedule.”
Southeast never has been 3-0 in OVC play, but Edwards sees no reason why the Redhawks can’t attain that and more.
“No doubt, we feel like we can take on the world,” he said.
By Marty Mishow, Southeast Missourian