|Emoryie Edwards is looking like the future of Tulare Union High School after breaking out with 32 catches, 419 receiving yards and three touchdowns - as a freshman on varsity last season (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).|
Like most incoming freshmen Tulare Union football players on the high school practice field, Emoryie Edwards watched, learned and became inspired by his older teammates.
Except Edwards wasn’t placed on the school’s freshman or junior varsity team. He got the promotion to have his name listed on the varsity roster.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Edwards got a chance to line up against elder high school football players in the Central Section last season. He tallied 32 receptions, 419 receiving yards and scored three times for the Redskins.
Now, he’s emerged as TUHS’s rising college prospect – especially at a school featuring Class of 2016 running back Romello Harris (10 scholarship offers) and the place that produced future NFL players Zac Diles, Virgil Green and Marquess Wilson.
Edwards said he did have an early fear with joining the varsity team.
“Yes, huge intimidation,” Edwards said. “It was actually hard on my family because they told me they didn’t want to see me do it (go on varsity). They told me ‘These are 17 or 18-year-old kids you’re going against.’”
But the juniors and seniors on TUHS took him in, even though Edwards jokingly said they quickly put him to work.
“My teammates would tell me ‘Freshman, get the cones! Freshman, get the bags!’ But they taught me the ropes,” Edwards said, smiling. “The senior wide receivers taught me the way of things and told me I’ve got to fill their shoes when they leave.”
He had five receptions or more in four games last season for the 7-5 Redskins. One of those performances was a 5 catch, 124-yard evening in a 49-28 rout of Kingsburg. Throughout the season, Edwards showed an early ability to play without phobias; as he would turn short screen passes into long gains or cut through the middle of the defense on a flag route and scamper to the end zone, with three or four defenders who crowded near him suddenly chasing him up the field.
“My route running and my catching (are my strengths). My hand-eye coordination is a big one I work on,” Edwards said. He adds that he develops his footwork and speed off the field.
He didn’t just elevate himself into one of the Redskins’ top receiving options, he brought the outside heat against quarterbacks and produced five sacks from his strong safety spot.
Edwards said his older teammates aren’t the only ones who motivate him. The past Redskin greats persuade him to reach for the stars whenever they stop by and give back to TUHS.
“They come back to the campus every offseason and we work out, do drills and they tell us about the NFL life. It motivates us to get to that point,” Edwards said.
CALI GOLD MINE'S TAKE
What to like: He's not afraid to take on a challenge despite being one of the youngest competitors on the field. Shows a willingness to dash inside and draw contact. He has solid balance and keeps his feet pumping after contact is made. He catches most of his passes by extending out his hands and hauling in the reception. Has a running back-like vision when he runs the football and knows when to make his cuts then burst toward the end zone. Also a willing blocker who'll step in and throw his body into a defender to help free his running backs.
What to build on: Down the road, he'll need to polish his blocking. He sometimes comes up too high and has to learn how to lower and bury his shoulder pads into a defender. I'll need to see more of his ability as a deep threat. Right now, he looks like someone who can catch the short throw and turn it into a long gain.
Overall: Tulare Union's future is looking bright with Edwards expected to carry the torch once Harris graduates. With his big plays and character, he could be the headliner for the Central Section's 2018 class.
More on Edwards can be seen here.