INDEPENDENCE, Kan. - Late in Saturday night's game, Independence (Kan.) Community College redshirt freshman defensive end David Bedford had an Air Force Prep offensive lineman dive at his knee as he chased the quarterback.
It knocked the former Palm Beach (Fla.) Lakes High prep star out for one play, but that was about the only time all night he was taken out of the game literally or figuratively.
Bedford (6-5, 243, 4.7) – a mid-term graduate that the University of Arkansas covets - was a dominant force with 10 tackles, 6 quarterback hurries, a sack, a fumble recovery and 3 tackles for losses in his team's 27-20 win.
"I think he could have done a little better, huh?," Independence head coach and Arkansas native David Ward joked. "Seriously, he is an unbelievable player and outstanding young man that just causes trouble on the field and stays out of it off the field. His best football is ahead of him."
Bedford would have added a 40-yard touchdown return of his fumble pick-up, but one of his teammates committed a penalty as he raced into the end zone that nullified the score.
"My biggest strength is my speed so I knew when I got the ball that I would get into the end zone," Bedford said. "I'm just out there making plays and helping my team."
Bedford, who was just 190 pounds coming out of high school, now has 28 tackles, 5 sacks and a Jayhawk Conference high 9 tackles for lost yardage in three games for Independence (2-1).
He is well aware that the former Razorback defensive end Jamaal Anderson was a 2007 first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons and that Arkansas has two senior defensive ends this year in Chris Wade and Marcus Harrison.
"That's exactly why they are in my top three right now along with Kansas State and Western Michigan," Bedford said. "They put guys in the league and I know if I come and play at Arkansas I could go at least in the first three rounds of the draft when its my time to get drafted."
Bedford is being recruited by Arkansas assistant James Shibest, a former junior college coach at Butler County (Kan.) CC.
"He is a great guy and keeps it real down to earth with me," Bedford said. "He's made it clear how much they want me and I an extremely interested in coming to play for Arkansas."
Ward is a former University of Central Arkansas player and coach and an avowed Razorback fan.
"Coach Ward is telling me to go to Arkansas, but he is kind nudging me to be a Razorback," Bedford said. "I can understand that."
Arkansas joins Kansas State, Kansas and Western Michigan in offering Bedford while Ole Miss and South Florida are apparently also on the verge of doing so.
Bedford admits going back to Florida to play
would be tempting, but is not a deciding factor.
"I wouldn't mind going back home to play, but if is not the best situation for me and Arkansas is, that is where I would be at," Bedford said. "I have no trouble going and competing with anybody, but if I knew I could go to Arkansas and play right away that would tough to turn down."
Independence's win on Saturday night has Bedford and his teammates thinking that the program has turned a corner.
"We have a lot more talent on the offensive side of the ball this year," Bedford said. "Last year we had a good defense, but the offense really had a hard time moving the ball. This year, they are really getting it done."
Bedford played on the junior varsity his sophomore year at Palm Beach Lakes before getting to join the varsity his final two seasons.
"We played a lot of running teams so people really didn't get a chance to see how I could rush the passer," Bedford said. "I was third-team all-state my senior year and played with and against a lot of guys who are now at Louisville and West Virginia and other places."
Getting back out on the field has helped Bedford get over not playing last season – something that he now considers a benefit because he will have three years to play major college football.
"I hated it," Bedford said. "I was so used to being on the field and I knew that last year I could have helped the team out. But I am happy now that I did that so I will have three years at Arkansas or wherever I end up."
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