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n Edwards plays as true freshman at University of Charleston

By AJ MASON

Staff writer

When Marcel Edwards committed last winter to the University of Charleston to continue a stellar football career, he knew he had made the right decision that would impact the next four years of his life.

Under head coach Pat Kirkland, Edwards played as a true freshman and had a productive season for the NCAA Division II institution based in Charleston, W.Va., a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Edwards had previously received offers from Delaware State, North Carolina Central, Bowie State and Morgan State Universities, but going to the WVIAC was the best move in his mind.

“It was a good decision to pick Charleston because it was a small school, and also it has a top-notch winning football program,” Edwards said. “I wanted to focus on my academics and the coaches showed a lot more interests than the other schools.”

From the time that Edwards arrived at Charleston, he was hard at work lifting weights, conditioning, studying the playbook and preparing his body for the college level.

“When I arrived, I was on the grind hard,” said Edwards, who majors in radiology and minors in sports administration. “It all started in the offseason and I ran a lot in the water and on the field. I want to be the best college player that I can possibly be.”

All the hard work has paid off for Edwards, who was on the field as a freshman where not many freshmen get the opportunity to play in their first college season.

“The coaches told me that if I worked hard, a spot was open, and I just showed what I could do,” Edwards said.

Edwards, an All-SMAC and All-County first-team selection for Westlake as a senior, was recruited as a hybrid linebacker and a safety. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder finished with 14 tackles, two sacks and two tackles for a loss, primarily as a linebacker. He also ran back a 16-yard kickoff return.

In a Charleston press release, Kirkland said, “Edwards has great instincts in pass coverage and a knack for coming up with a big play at the right time. Edwards attacks the ball when it is in the air and can also quickly break on the ball. He is a heavy hitter and is a great addition to the UC run defense. He will add another great talent to the secondary for the future of the Golden Eagles.”

Charleston finished 9-2 overall (6-2 WVIAC) and was ranked No. 25 in the final regular season AFCA Coaches Poll. Edwards was also a part of the third-best defense in NCAA Division II.

“We had a great season and I love football so much, I sleep and breed the game,” Edwards said. “I’ve learned a lot from the upperclassmen and coaches so far. They may move me into the secondary next year also.”

With the help of NCSA Athletic Recruiting, Edwards was given the opportunity and technology to be proactive in his recruiting process while being educated on the steps he needed to take to achieve his ultimate goal of playing college football.

“NCSA gave me some recruiting cards when I went down I was at the All-American Combine in Dallas, Texas,” Edwards said. “I sent out my information and they put my profile with my high school video clips on their site. That really help expose me to a lot of schools.”

Edwards, who played varsity all four years under former Westlake head football coach Dominic Zaccarelli, has a school record eight defensive touchdowns. He also has a state championship ring from the 2008 team that became the first Wolverines team to ever win it all.

“We never missed the playoffs,” said Edwards, who maintained a 3.2 GPA at Westlake. “I miss the fourth quarter and how we fought to the end. Winning a state title was something I will never forget. I learned a lot from the coaches and players, they push me to succeed.”

“Marcel finished with the most defensive touchdowns in program history with nine,” Zaccarelli said. “He was very consistent and he was a solid player. I’m very happy with him, he had a great career at Westlake and I will miss his countless number of plays coming off the edge.”

Zaccarelli remembers when Edwards was a freshman when he deflected a pass to himself and returned it for six versus Friendly of Prince George’s County in the Class 3A South Region playoffs, and also as a junior when he scooped up a fumble versus McDonough and scored.

“He’s always around the football,” Zaccarelli added. “I’m very proud of him; he will do well at the college level.”

Edwards is joined at Charleston by 2012 Westlake graduate Justin Lawrence, also a true freshman at tight end.

ajmason@somdnews.com