When Mario Edwards Jr. came to the Florida State Seminoles, his arrival was surrounded with high expectations. As the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2012 class, Edwards was fawned over for his combination of size and speed, but failed to show any of that when he arrived on campus at a massive 315 pounds. After going through the disappointment of being redshirted by Jimbo Fisher and the redemption of cracking the starting lineup the last two games of the season, Edwards is ready to live up to the hype in 2013.
Edwards wasn’t ready to be the player he was capable of when he arrived in Tallahassee. Showing up in fall camp overweight and out of shape pushed Edwards down the depth chart and forced Fisher to make no other decision than to redshirt the highly touted freshman. Edwards took it hard, skipping the first game of the season, but was given a second chance when starting defensive end Brandon Jenkins forced Edwards into the defensive rotation.
That second chance was a wake-up call for Edwards and he responded. Over the course of the season, he dropped 30 pounds as he grew up and while he still played minimally, he worked his way back into the shape that had made him an elite recruit. Then when Cornelius Carradine went down with an ACL injury in the regular season finale, Edwards pushed his way into the starting lineup.
He responded to the playing time by finally looking like the player that Jimbo Fisher had recruited so hard. In the ACC title game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Orange Bowl against the Northern Illinois Huskies, Edwards racked up 10 tackles, capping a frustrating season with a strong showing, but only scratching the surface of what he will be called upon to do in 2013.
Jenkins and Carradine are both in NFL camps now, opening up the door for Edwards to step up as a starter and leader of the defense. The struggles that Edwards went through early in the 2012 season helped to wake him up to the work he needs to put in to be a successful contributor to the Florida State defense. His time to shine is now. Can he answer the call?