Why Michigan RB Donovan Edwards ‘doesn’t look like a freshman’

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·4 min read
Why Michigan RB Donovan Edwards ‘doesn’t look like a freshman’
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan football has more than one debut that fans are anxiously awaiting. From former five-star quarterback J.J. McCarthy to phenom linebacker Junior Colson, there are a few players who could make an instant impact as true freshmen.

But perhaps the most likely is former five-star running back Donovan Edwards.

Edwards has quickly found himself in the rotation, and head coach Jim Harbaugh has noted that he’ll see the field on day one. So, what does his position coach, Michigan all-time leading rusher Mike Hart, see in the freshman phenom?

“He’s just an explosive player,” Hart said. “I think a lot of you guys have seen his high school tape. The kind of runs he made in high school — he has the ability to make those in college. When he switches gears, you can tell. He doesn’t look out of place. I think a lot of freshmen when they come in, getting used to the speed, getting used to the speed on defense and making people miss, I think it takes a little transition. And it’s still a transition for him, he isn’t where he needs to be, but you can see that he has the skill set to be really, really special one day, if he gets better — he’s not there yet. But if he continues to grow, continues to take coaching, which he does, he has a chance to be a really good player.”

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While Hart is learning about Edwards’ prowess, there’s a coach on-staff that already knows all about what he can do — former West Bloomfield head coach Ron Bellamy, who now coaches the Wolverines safeties.

Considering that he’s already spent four years with Edwards at the Oakland County powerhouse, Bellamy knows everything about what the Lakers standout can do.

And from what he’s seen in fall camp, looking across the line of scrimmage, Bellamy is seeing exactly what he expected when he was helping Edwards manage his recruitment — a bona fide five-star that every school in the nation wanted.

“It’s Donovan — he’s what I’ve seen since third grade,” Bellamy said. “He’s a kid that’s not gonna let anybody outwork him. He’s a kid that takes his craft very seriously. He’s gonna be a great addition to the offense. He’s attacking every day and he’s getting better and better every chance I see him and he poses problems for defenses.”

That’s all good and well, especially in practice, but what about when the lights turn on? It’s a little different playing in West Bloomfield compared to being in front of 110,000 at The Big House. Not to mention, as a former five-star, Edwards has a target on his back, considering everyone is expecting big things. How can/will he live up to that?

“I don’t think he worries about that,” Bellamy said. “If you know Donovan, he received the Gatorade Michigan high school player of the year, he didn’t want to do it — he didn’t want to do the paperwork! He could have been Detroit Athletic Club player of the year — those individual accolades don’t define him. That’s why I don’t think it’ll be too much pressure for him.

“His biggest thing is he wants to compete and win. He’s always been like that. He’s carried that mindset here to Michigan and I’m excited to watch him, because it’s gonna be different for me to see him in that level. But I’m excited to follow his career.”

While Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Josh Gattis both noted that Edwards will be an instant impact player, how ready is he to contribute? Because often, it takes time for any high school player to acclimate to the physicality of the college game.

Bellamy says, however, with Edwards, there’s no reason to worry about that.

“When Donovan was in the 10th grade, he benched 225 (pounds) 12 times,” Bellamy said. “So, physically, dude’s ready. He always has been. He’s been a bit more physically mature than other kids his age and same is the case here. He’s come in day one since spring ball and he doesn’t look like a freshman.”

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