Edwards came to Gainesville an Army All-American billed as the next great linebacker for the Gators. While Edwards struggled with his weight during his freshman year, Brandon Spikes emerged at middle linebacker.
"That's a low point, not playing a lot," Edwards said. "Coming in and being expected to play, then not meeting your expectations. That's a low point. You have to know your role. I developed my role as a special teams guy. This year, I'm expected to be more."
For three years, Edwards played in mop up duty. He got reps at linebacker with the second or third string when Florida was blowing out an overmatched opponent. It wasn't the impact he wanted, so he looked elsewhere.
Edwards found an area to see the field on special teams. Knowing how much head coach Urban Meyer valued it, Edwards jumped in and has seen consistent playing time on multiple units. However, not being on the field for meaningful defensive snaps still didn't feel right.
"Of course there's a little frustration, but you have to know your role on the team," Edwards said. "Once you do get an opportunity, you take full advantage of it, no matter when or what game it is."
He wanted more.
When linebackers coach Charlie Strong left to become the head coach at Louisville in the offseason, Edwards saw an opening. It wasn't that Strong's presence on the Florida staff kept Edwards from seeing the field, but a new coach with a new eye for talent meant the depth chart was wide open.
"When a new coach comes in, there are new opportunities available," Edwards said. "I had a chance to display what I can really do to a new coach. I can say that it's going pretty well."
Linebackers coach D.J. Durkin came from Stanford to join the Gators coaching staff. Edwards and his position coach hit it off immediately, giving a fresh boost to the way he performed on the practice field.
It also turned into the best offseason of his career.
"I feel like I've come a long way since my first three years," Edwards said. "I've worked harder this year than any other year. I'm just going to take advantage of every opportunity I get and take advantage of my senior year."
Edwards changed the way he looked at football. Instead of trying to rely only on his talent, he dedicated himself to the playbook and becoming a student of the game.
"My approach to the game, I take it extremely serious," Edwards said. "I'm in the film room a few hours a day. I study the game, and I know the game better than I did in my earlier years. It takes a lot of hard work, and I had to realize that. Now I'm just on the grind."
Now Edwards only hopes the grind pays off. He knows he won't be starting when the Florida defense takes the field this Saturday, but there is hope for one breakout season.
"I feel like it's my time," Edwards said.
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