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Prominent & Dominant: Bluefield’s Edwards 'an offensive weapon' for Beavers

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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Marcus Constantino
Bluefield quarterback D.J. Edwards (3) runs past Wayne defender Dustin Hatfield during a game last November. (Photo by Marcus Constantino)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- D.J. Edwards prefers defense and his Bluefield coaches believe the senior has a collegiate future at safety.

On offense, however, the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is too versatile to pigeonhole in one role. So, when fans peruse the game program and flip to the roster page this season, Edwards will have a new two-letter designation beside his name: OW.

"We think he is an offensive weapon," said Freddy "Fritz" Simon, the offensive coordinator and son of Bluefield Coach Fred Simon. "He was a two-year starter at quarterback, he played wide receiver as a freshman, and we felt like we needed to move him around and get him in space more."

Edwards completed 29 of 47 passes for 619 yards and 10 touchdowns against three interceptions last season. He was the Beavers' third-leading rusher with 516 yards on 80 carries, 11 of which went for touchdowns.

Now Edwards can split wide and catch passes from new quarterback R.J. Bourne, or line up at running back in order to baffle opposing defenses. Edwards can spell Bourne at times to present yet another look.

"He can play all kinds of positions," said Simon, who enters his 28th season as Bluefield's head coach. "He's an athlete and a versatile one. He is strong, a good blocker, a good runner, nice hands, nice arm. He's the best athlete on the team, by far."

Edwards is a three-year starter on defense - he played cornerback as a freshman before moving to safety - and this summer eclipsed 200 pounds for the first time. He entered the program at 170 pounds.

He runs a 4.5 40, has a 270-pound max bench press, can squat 350 pounds, power clean 250 and dead lift nearly 400 pounds.

And the coaching staff is seeing even more dedication from Edwards as he heads into his senior season.

"Once basketball was over he really kicked it into high gear," the younger Simon said. "He went into the weight room and got bigger."

As versatile and talented as Edwards is with the ball in his hands, he was a first-team all-state pick at defensive back last season.  

"I think if he goes anywhere collegiately that safety is his best position," Freddy Simon said. "Safety or a rover-type player, depending on the defense. He's a great open-field tackler. He comes up and hits you and guards the pass real well."

It didn't take much cajoling to get Edwards on board with the new offensive role. Bluefield went 9-3 last season and has watched fellow Class AA power Wayne win consecutive state championships.

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