Having a player like Deon Edwards has made Walter Banks’ life easier the last eight months.
When Banks was hired as the new head coach at Lake Minneola High in January, it didn’t take him long to realize how talented his three-star safety was.
All he needed to do was watch the Arkansas commit run drills during offseason conditioning.
“I have coached a lot of high Division I athletes and when I saw how (Edwards) was going through the drills, it was a step above everyone else,” Banks said. “I knew this kid was special.”
Knowing he had a security blanket on the backend of his defense was nice, but Banks said Edwards helped in other ways, too.
As a new head coach, Banks had to install his offensive and defensive schemes, meaning the Hawks had to spend extra time in the classroom learning plays, on top of the usual 7-on-7 and team camps.
Edwards’ style of play meshed perfectly with Banks’ philosophy, so the coach was able to use him as a model to the other players.
“We’re going to be fast all of the time and he has that natural motor,” Banks said. “When I compliment him on doing that at practice, the kids see that’s what I want and they want to get to that level.”
Banks said Edwards is a completely different person between the lines than he is off the field.
“He’s an extremely polite kid around the classroom, but once he’s on the field, it’s like he turns another switch on,” Banks said. “It’s all about football then. He doesn’t mind getting on another person when they’re not hustling to the ball.”
While Edwards has made Banks’ transition easier because of his talent, the coach acknowledges that there are still areas his star safety can improve.
Covering the slot receiver in space, which involves technique, is the biggest area Banks would like to see improvement in. That would be a nice compliment to the physicality he already plays with.
“Deon plays free safety, but he’s a guy that when I first watched film and evaluated him, I saw him as an outside linebacker, strong safety type guy,” Banks said. “He has the skill to play free safety, but he’s that guy that can play down in the box because he’s so physical.”
In Lake Minneola’s season opener, Edwards had five tackles as the Hawks beat University High, which plays in the classification above them, 35-33.
“A lot of people know who (Edwards) is and they know he’s a big-time hitter, so he got a lot of action that was away from him,” Banks said. “You could tell his speed was above everybody else.”