This is the guy. This is the guy that will be the focal point of a redefined Ball State offense gunning for the first bowl victory in school history.
No. 5 on our list of the Top 50 MAC football players for the 2014 season is the top running back in the Western Division, and arguably the entire conference. Jahwan Edwards returns to an offense that will look markedly different when the season begins. One thing is for certain though, any measure of success the Cardinals will have in 2014 will depend largely upon the performance that Edwards can provide out of the backfield.
The 5-foot-10, 219-pound senior enters his final season in Muncie poised to become the most decorated running back in the history of Ball State Cardinals football. Another 697 yards and he'll add the Ball State rushing record to his 39 career touchdowns, tops in school history.
As a junior Edwards finished fifth in the MAC in rushing yards per game, averaging better than 100 yards a contest. For the year he racked up 1,110 yards, becoming just the fourth Cardinal with two 1,000 yard seasons in school history. His 14 touchdowns ranked 19th in the nation, despite missing two games due to injury. This, a year after topping 1,400 yards as a sophomore. Edwards was named to the All-MAC Second Team last year.
Named to the Doak Walker Award watch list for the second consecutive season, Edwards has been critical to the success of a Cardinals program that has increased its win total each of the last four season. Coach Pete Lembo talked to Ball State Sports about the progress Edwards has made since joining the Cardinals.
"Jahwan Edwards is a success story that everyone associated with college football can appreciate," Lembo said. "Despite a highly productive high school career, he was not highly recruited. He took a chance and came 10 hours away from home because he believed in our coaching staff and wanted the opportunity to play in the Football Bowl Subdivision. His commitment, passion and work ethic are tremendous. Jahwan has made an impact on the field since the first game of his freshman year - a win over Indiana. He has improved as a student and has developed as a leader. We are very proud of his progress."
Ball State is a team that has plenty of talent at running back. Horactio Banks, Teddy Williamson, and incoming freshman Darian Green have ensured that the Cardinals will have a competitive ground attack for the 2014 season. Edwards spoke with the Fort Wayne News Sentinel at MAC Media Day about the culture among the running backs at Ball State.
"Horactio helps me so much," Edwards said. "He's my biggest critic and even though he's not the starter, he could start at anytime. He and I take great pride in teaching each other things. We have great chemistry in the running backs' room. No one is fighting over carries. Nobody is being disruptive to (running backs coach Justin Lustig)."
As Edwards rushes, and records fall, don't be surprised to hear NFL Draft talk. His is a work ethic that is unparalleled. A work ethic that must be present if Ball State football is to maintain the level of success that has come to define the program in the Lembo era.