RECRUITING-Edwards Consummate Student/Athlete

It has become the popular cliché in recruiting: academics are most important in their search for the right college to play football. In most situations, academics are really just an afterthought. When it comes to Lorenzo Edwards III, you could write volumes about what he can do on a football field. The fact that he could be a college sophomore the day he steps foot on a college campus should speak volumes about how seriously he takes academics.

(Lorenzo Edwards profile)

A hard hitting free safety from Orlando's Edgewater High School, Edwards makes his mark knocking down anyone who dares to venture over the middle of the field. In his spare time he dreams of one day rebuilding inner cities and dilapidated towns. His 120 tackles, 21 for loss, five interceptions, five sacks and three fumble recoveries as a junior are indicative that he is a human wrecking ball on the field. His book savvy could lead to something special for the college and not just the football team that receives his LOI on signing day 2007. His intended major is no simple task to complete.

"Architectural engineering … I want to get in the architectural field," Edwards said. "Right now I am doing everything in the classes I am taking. I want to build anything, anywhere. We are in a program that allows us to design buildings, stores, and skyscrapers. In our last grading period, the teacher is going to allow us to go out and get internships."

Forget being an early enrollee, this guy will likely be able to skip a full year of classes by taking them in high school. Edwards is the consummate student/athlete.

"I am in AP classes so my core is over a 4.0 GPA," he said. "I am hoping to be a college sophomore when I graduate (high school). I still have to talk to my counselor and see what I will have. I just go in and do the work so I can say I did it."

He was always a good student until his freshman year in high school. His first year of varsity football may have taken a toll on him mentally, but Edwards knew he just had to buckle down and get his school work back to the level he had grown accustomed to.

"I had to get into the hang of things," he said. "In my freshman year and the load that came with it, it just caught me off guard. I was making C's. Eventually I caught on and I had to better my study habits.

"My mom is the academic queen. She pushed me and told me I was going to have to step my game up in my studies. That was important for me with me being good in football. I wanted to keep my grades up so my parents wouldn't have to pay for anything (at college)."

High school football has been easy for him from the start. He had a little trepidation about playing as a ninth grader but soon it wore off and his natural instincts as a leader took over.

"My freshman year my coach asked me if I wanted to play varsity or JV," Edwards said. "My dad and I talked and thought it would be better to play four years of varsity. I went in with a little doubt but my dad instilled a strong work ethic in me to work harder to be better than the next person and eventually I started as a ninth grader."

Already 6-2, and 216 pounds as a high school junior, Edwards has the speed and instincts to play big time ball as a safety at the next level too. It's where he is comfortable although he doesn't mind mixing it up a little bit inside every now and then,

"I see myself as a safety," he said. "All the schools that I have been in contact with have asked me and I tell them I want to play safety. Coaches tell me my best attributes are my strength, quickness, and I have the smarts to play the position."

The coaches also notice his nasty streak on the field. Opponents are all too aware that he takes pride in knocking people into next week.

"I have had coaches ask me why I hit those kids like that, they say they don't deserve that kind of punishment," Edwards said jokingly. "One coach saw my film where two guys were running a crossing pattern and a wheel. I jammed one guy right into the other and they both fell. The coach said he had never seen anything like that."

The only surprise in the process so far for Edwards is the amount of attention he is getting and the fact that the offers are piling up so quickly.

"I received some offers I wasn't expecting," he said. "I got them from Notre Dame, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisville, and Nebraska."

I cut him off and wanted to know why he was being so modest.

"I really wasn't expecting to get them this early," he said. "I just had no idea."

One of the schools that is hot after Edwards is the Florida Gators. The fact the Gators only signed two freshmen safeties in two years means the depth chart will most likely be very inviting for Edwards when it comes time to make a choice. He already likes the coaching staff. Coach Charlie Strong is recruiting Edwards for the Gators and Edwards has already established a comfort level with the co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach.

"Coach Strong is real laid back," Edwards started. "He doesn't let too much bother him, he knows his stuff, he knows the rules and I appreciate that. He talks to me like I am his son. We have that connection and its real cool."

The recruiting legacy of Urban Meyer is growing every day. The text messaging wizard has his own way of building a rapport with the players the Gators recruit. Edwards has taken notice.

"Coach Meyer is a character … he is a funny guy," Edwards said. "He is talking to me all the time and telling me he is going to lock me down. He calls me 'Zo'."

Edwards has also been to Gainesville a couple of times. He saw first hand the dismantling of Florida State at the end of the season in 2005. He also took notice of the defensive style of play.

"I was there for the Vandy and the Florida State games," he said. "The FSU game was crazy, especially the stands and the people. When I went into the locker room they were cutting a fool. I like the way they play their safeties and outside linebackers in the box covering down and in the box to make plays."

He also knows he can be a player wherever he decides to play at the next level.

"I can see myself playing in a defense anywhere," he said. "Put me out there and I will make plays."

His first offer was West Virginia and the last one so far is from Duke. Of course it could be the academic people at Duke sending him a full ride. Either way, he is likely to check them out as he takes a whirlwind tour of college campuses this summer. He is going to look around and make the best decision for himself.

"I know that Florida has an architectural program and Notre Dame," he said. "I will be visiting both and a bunch more schools to find out more about them. I will be going a lot of places over the summer with my father.

"I am wide open with everyone that has offered and then some. All three Florida schools are in it, that is a definite."

He has three former teammates that signed with Florida State. That doesn't seem to be much of a factor.

"I know Kenny Ingram, Aaron Jones, and Matt Hardrick," he said. "Matt is supposed to be at Florida State soon. I am hoping for him. I haven't really talked to them in a while but in the beginning I called and asked what is was like. They told me it was tough and I needed to prepare myself. I appreciated the warning."

The way Lorenzo Edwards attacks things, he will probably make a decision sooner rather than later. One thing is for sure, he will do his homework and he will leave no stone unturned in the process. Some university as well as a football team is going to get one dynamite prospect when he makes his decision.

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