Working His Tail Off

FRANKLIN – Jake Edwards is a Bulldog through and through.

The 2014 Georgia commit hails from a family full of Bulldog faithful, and they couldn't be happier that he's headed to Athens next fall.

"We've been so blessed," Kristi Edwards, Jake's mother said. "It's been such a fortunate experience for our whole family."

The Edwards clan has long been devoted members of the Dawg Nation, a custom dating back to Jake's father's upbringing. Chris Edwards recalls Saturday afternoons that consisted of the entire family cramming into his boyhood living room to cheer on the Bulldogs with his father.

"We get sick whenever Georgia loses," he said.

And that goes for Jake's current team as well, the Heard County Braves.

When he suits up every Friday Jake has a surplus of support which includes both immediate and extended family members. His 14-year-old sister, Julia, sells programs prior to kickoff. Kristi serves as somewhat of a team mom, helping with coordination and promotion wherever she can. And Chris is entering his tenth year as the school's assistant principal.

"We've never missed a game," Kristi Edwards said. "And we don't plan on it."

The Edwards moved from Carrollton, Ga. when Jake was in the sixth grade, long before Jake grew into the stout 6-4, 288-pound giant he is now. He garnered interest from many schools over the past year before picking up his first offer in February, and when that happened, Chris and the Edwards' had to shift their approach towards Georgia football.

Chris refrained from wearing Georgia garb and removed all Bulldog paraphernalia from his office so recruiting coaches "wouldn't get the wrong idea." They didn't want to assume that Jake was tied solely to Georgia.

"We would've had to have a big yard sale if he ended up going somewhere else," Chris said.

Over a four-month span, Jake picked up offers from Appalachian State, East Carolina, Marshall, Southern Miss and UCF among others. But on a steamy Athens afternoon at Mark Richt's camp in June, Jake received the ultimate offer from Georgia.

"I am speechless and it feels like I am in a dream," he told Scout on the day of his commitment. "I am extremely excited and blessed to be committed to the University of Georgia."

Jake is now a celebrity in the small town of Franklin, Ga., where you can't turn around without seeing the iconic Georgia G plastered across car windows, posters or hats of the next passerby. A simple trip to the grocery store takes almost twice as long, Kristi said, which makes Jake conscious that he's not playing for just himself or his family, but the entire community.

"We make him aware that he's representing all of Heard County," Kristi said. "We talked about making a difference in lives other than his own. This is a big deal and I think he understands that."

Jake began his final season at Heard County in a loss to Callaway. He was a lineman on both sides of the ball, missing fewer than ten plays in the entire game, special teams notwithstanding. With a lack of depth, Heard County needs him greatly, but his parents don't think that's a problem, especially since Jake has re-devoted himself to being a year-round football player.

"He's worked his tail off," Chris said. "His success didn't just come from his crazy fast growth. He's all set on football."

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