Donovan Edwards wanted to be a football legend at Michigan. Now he has the chance

Scottsdale, Arizona. – With snow protecting the taking part in subject at West Bloomfield Excessive Faculty, Donovan Edwards He sat below a tent with 5 hats unfold out on the desk in entrance of him.

Alabama. Georgia. Michigan. Notre Dame. Pennsylvania state. These have been the colleges Edwards was among the many finalists when he made his dedication and signed his letter of intent on a chilly December 2020 day.

If Edwards’ objective was to star on a workforce within the School Soccer Playoff, Michigan wasn’t the apparent selection. alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame all have established CFP credentials; Michigan, coming off a 2-4 season, has not. The Wolverines additionally had a pitfall at operating again Zac CharbonnetHaskins and Hassan Blake Corum It ranked within the high three on the Depth chart.

As a participant who lives for the large moments, Edwards had simpler methods to get to the highest. He selected Michigan, the trail of higher resistance, as a result of he wished to be a part of the revival.

“I all the time wished to do one thing legendary for Michigan,” Edwards mentioned. “I’ve all the time wished to alter this system.”

Edwards’ standing as a Michigan legend was born with two touchdowns within the fourth quarter Ohio State. For many of the nation, that was the second when Edwards burst onto the scene as considered one of school soccer’s all-stars. For Michigan, this was a continuation of all the things Edwards had accomplished since arriving on campus.

“I might by no means doubt Donovan Edwards in any capability doing something,” mentioned coach Jim Harbaugh.

Edwards is the primary cause Michigan’s Nationwide Championship hopes did not evaporate when Corum fell holding a knee in a sort out. Illinois. The Wolverines have put rather a lot on Corum’s shoulders this season, and so they routinely depend on him for a 25 or 30 carry. Sidelined and suspended with accidents, Edwards was extra of a situational participant, spelling Corum briefly bursts or displaying off his abilities as a receiver out of the sector.

Dropping a participant of Corum’s worth could be over for a lot of groups. For the Wolverines, this was a participant unlock alternative that they had largely saved below wraps. Edwards ran for 216 yards in opposition to the Buckeyes and 185 in opposition to them Bordeaux on the Huge Ten Championship Sport, all whereas sporting a splint on his injured proper hand. He might be one of the vital essential gamers on the sector in Saturday’s recreation in opposition to the Fiesta Bowl TCUand the identical could be true within the CFP title recreation if Michigan superior.

“When Donovan walked out and missed two video games, Blake took all of it on his shoulders,” mentioned Harbaugh. “With Blake out, Donovan was in a position to get virtually two video games on his shoulders. That saved us. That saved our workforce.”

At 5-foot-8, Corum is artful and devious. Edwards, a much bigger again at 6-1 and 204 kilos, is a troublesome runner who’s at his finest when he can get a foot within the floor and hit the accelerator. He has excessive gear that permits him to tug off, as he confirmed on lengthy landing runs in opposition to Ohio State, Penn State, and Purdue.

Edwards has 4 runs of 60 yards or extra this yr, tied for uab‘s Dewan McBride At most in FBS. He did so on 117 carries, which implies that 3.4 p.c of his runs have gone over 60, the best proportion but amongst backs. Amongst appearances with at the very least 100 dashing makes an attempt, Edwards additionally leads the FBS at 7.45 yards per sort out.

“He introduced his personal type,” mentioned co-offensive coordinator Matt Weiss. “He could not be capable to do a couple of issues like Blake, however he introduced his house run velocity to interrupt 70, 80 yards. He does it his personal manner.”

Edwards, who misplaced his mom to breast most cancers when he was two years outdated, speaks candidly about his religion. He sees his soccer profession as half of a bigger plan, which may clarify why he has religion in Michigan at a time when this system gave the impression to be faltering.

Edwards rushed for 185 yards within the Huge Ten title recreation. (Robert Godin / USA Right this moment)

Final yr, Edwards was the No. 3 operating again on a workforce that received the Huge Ten Tour and misplaced to Georgia within the Orange Bowl. He was in line for a much bigger function as a sophomore, however two accidents—one early within the season, one late—restricted his touchdowns.

A participant with Edwards’ draft credentials may have been justified in wanting rapid taking part in time. Accidents whereas ready behind Haskins and Corum compelled him to be affected person, however he by no means misplaced confidence.

“When you take a look at final yr, he did not play in any respect, actually,” mentioned operating backs coach Mike Hart. “We had Hassan and we had Blake. Donovan was a five-star recruit, a missionary recruit, and he did not play a lot. For him to return in as a freshman and never play a lot and keep right here, not get within the gate and never do these issues, it says rather a lot about who he’s.”

Ever since he was in highschool at West Bloomfield, Edwards has been often known as a participant who craves the brilliant lights. For a school soccer participant, the lights do not get a lot brighter than taking part in within the Fiesta Bowl with a visit to a CFP recreation on the road.

The questions which will come up when a backup is pushed at that time don’t essentially apply to Edwards. No person in Michigan wonders if he is prepared. No person waits to see how they may reply to stress. They know the solutions.

“The massive gamers do large issues within the large moments,” Edwards mentioned. “All my life I have been getting ready to do what I am doing on the nationwide stage at a excessive stage.”

It is laborious to think about a participant of his talent in Michigan historical past attaining extra with fewer touches than Edwards. He set the Michigan single-game report for receiving yards by operating again final yr in opposition to him Marylandthrew a 75-yard landing move in opposition to Sure In final yr’s Huge Ten Championship Sport, he daggered Ohio State’s coronary heart together with his two house runs and was named Convention Event Participant of the Yr.

If that wasn’t sufficient to make him a Michigan legend, Edwards is aware of what’s going to.

“We have now to win a nationwide championship,” he mentioned. “This is able to make us legendary.”

(High photograph: Ben Jackson/Getty Photos)

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