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March 15, 2012

A closer look at Steve Edmond

Barry Bowman didn't know what he had in Steve Edmond at Daingerfield High School.

Literally.

Edmond was a backup middle linebacker as a sophomore behind a senior who would be named the Class 2A player of the year. It was a loaded defense.


Edmond was quiet, which the coaches might have confused for complacency.

"As a young kid, Steve was kind of standoffish, not a vocal leader," said Bowman, who coached Daingerfield to three straight state titles (2008-10) before taking over at Paris. "So Steve accepted the fact he was going to be the starter's backup at middle linebacker and was content to play special teams."

SEIZING OPPORTUNITY: That all changed in Week 10 of the 2008 season when defensive end Donald Bryant (now a redshirt freshman at Baylor) rolled an ankle, and the coaches decided to move Edmond to defensive end to replace Bryant. Edmond had never played with his hand on the ground.

But all Edmond did over the next six games en route to the Class 2A state title was post 54 tackles, 17 of them behind the line of scrimmage, force five fumbles and recover three of them.

"Bryant couldn't get his spot back three weeks later when he came back from the injury," Bowman said.

In 2009, when Edmond was a junior, he was the starter at middle linebacker and helped lead Daingerfield to a second straight state title.

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY: But it was after the team's third playoff victory that year Bowman learned about Edmond's character. One year after losing his father to a lengthy illness, Edmond's uncle, Vic Edmond, died in a car accident while driving back from watching Steve in the playoff game.

Vic Edmond had worn No. 33 for Daingerfield back in 1983 on a team considered one of the best in the history of Texas high school football.

That team was the first to go 16-0 and win a state title, scoring 631 points and giving up just 8 points all season.

Dave Campbell's Magazine put that Daingerfield team among the top five Texas high school teams of all time.

Before Daingerfield's fourth playoff game in 2009 - against Newton - Steve Edmond asked Bowman if he could switch from wearing No. 1 to No. 33 in honor of his uncle. Bowman agreed.

Edmond would switch from No. 1 to No. 33 for one game during his senior year as well to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his uncle's death.

"That's why Steve now wears No. 33 at Texas," Bowman said.

SENIOR YEAR SURPRISE: Edmond showed just how versatile he was when Daingerfield reached the state title game for a third straight year in 2010.

Bowman was concerned about opponent Cameron Yoe's strong defensive line against what Bowman considered his team's biggest weakness - the offensive line.

"We played without a tight end all year," Bowman said. "And playing Cameron Yoe, I didn't think we could play the whole game and hold up on the offensive line.

"I told our staff, 'We have to play with a tight end.' My offensive coordinator said, 'We don't have that position.' I said, 'We have someone. He just happens to play on defense.' And it was Steve."

Bowman determined before the game Daingerfield needed Edmond to play 20-25 snaps at tight end, even though he hadn't played that position at any point in his high school career.

When the game was over, Daingerfield snapped the ball 23 times with Edmond at tight end, and he caught a touchdown pass, had a huge third-down conversion reception and "blocked his tail off," according to Bowman.

Oh, and Edmond finished with 16 tackles and was named defensive MVP of the game in a 33-27 victory.

AND THE KICKER, TOO: Edmond even served as the team's kicker.

And he came up with a huge kickoff late in the game, after Daingerfield had been flagged for an excessive celebration penalty following the go-ahead TD, putting Daingerfield up 33-27.

"We were now kicking off from our own 25, and Cameron Yoe had a powerful offense with four, go-daddy receivers, and there were 27 seconds still left in the game," Bowman said.

"I ran down there with Steve as the kicker and told him, 'Just tee the ball up and kick it as hard as you can,' - knowing that Steve can't kick and it's probably going to be a squibber.

"But Steve hit the prettiest, highest kickoff of his life, it goes to the 10-yard line. There is still about 16 seconds left. They ran two plays and on second down they threw a hitch route and started pitching it, and the game ended with Steve reaching out and swatting the ball as it was being pitched. He recovered it, and it was game over."

'INCREDIBLE HANDS': Bowman vividly recalls telling then-Texas offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, who handled Edmond's recruitment, that Edmond had the best hands of any player he'd ever coached and could easily play tight end. Edmond had 10 interceptions in his final two years at Daingerfield and returned two of those for touchdowns.

"Steve has tremendous ability to read quarterbacks' eyes and anticipate," Bowman said. "He's just got tremendous hands and tremendous ball skills.

"He understands the game and is a very athletic-minded kid. Has a knack of being able to anticipate and break on the ball. I'm not going to be surprised if he can stay on the field against those spread offenses this season for Texas.

"If we played with a tight end, Steve would probably be a Division I tight end. He is that big, that fast and has as good of hands as any receiver I've ever coached, and I coached guys like Chris Jones, who went to Texas.

"If Mack Brown said, 'We're moving you to tight end,' my money is that within a year he'd be the starting tight end at Texas. Special kid. Special athlete."

LOOKING GOOD, SO FAR: The Texas coaches like what they're seeing from Edmond so far. Edmond had the play of the day on the final day of spring practice before the team broke for spring break.

He ripped the ball out of Jaxon Shipley's hands and returned it for a touchdown after a short pass to Shipley.

"Steve, first of all, is a good instinctual linebacker," said Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who is also the linebacker coach. "For his size, he moves very well, which is what we like about him there. He has the ability to play the run and pass equally well, which is important in the league we play in.

"But he's still learning. He's still learning to be a down after down guy. If he's going to be in our first 11, he has to be one of our 11-best players. So he's earning the trust of his coaching staff and his teammates.

"Everybody sees Steve's talents the first day he got off the bus. It wasn't all coaching. So now it's a matter of playing down after down."

WEIGHT NOT AN ISSUE: Diaz said even though Edmond weighs 260 pounds, he sees Edmond staying at linebacker and not moving to the defensive line.

"Weight is a number I don't get jarred up on because different people can handle their size differently," Diaz said.

"You watch the way they move. You watch the way they move and react and watch their stamina. Then as they are getting bigger and stronger, you watch the way they run. Right now, Steve has found himself a good home in the middle of our defense."

Diaz said he also thinks Edmond can stay on the field against spread passing attacks not be the linebacker taken off the field for a fifth or sixth defensive back.

"He can stay out there," Diaz said. "When teams spread you out, they are still hunting the A gap and B gap. That's still the easiest way to move the football. He can cover and play the way the defense is designed. We are looking for guys who are complete football players."

UT'S CLINT EASTWOOD?:Diaz had maybe the quote of the year so far in describing Edmond's quiet personality.

"He comes off as quiet, but he's listening to everything you say," Diaz said. "I always say, when you walk into the bar, the guy who is running his mouth usually doesn't want a fight.

"But the guy in the back who doesn't say a word, that's the guy you have to be careful of - that's Steve. He's the guy who if he gets up, everyone's going to get quiet because they something terrible is about to happen to them."

Bowman said he learned the hard way when Edmond was a sophomore about confusing Edmond's quiet demeanor with a lack of passion. Once Edmond got on the field, Bowman never made that mistake again.

"If you can't like Steve Edmond, I'm going to have to worry about you as a person," said Bowman, adding that Edmond's mother, Barbara Peters, "is a classy lady who has done an unbelievable job of raising Steve."

"Steve is not a vocal leader," Bowman said. "Steve is a leader by example by how he carries himself in a day-to-day basis and how he works. He's not a rah-rah, talk-trash type of leader.

"I know as he gets older and matures as a human being and as a player, that leadership skill will take off a little bit. But unless he changes who he is, he's never going to be that loud, vocal, rah-rah player. He never was that for us, and I'd be surprised to see that change."

'UNCOACHABLE FEEL': One of Edmond's biggest plays as a freshman came in the third quarter at Missouri, when he knifed through the line when the Tigers had third-and-goal from the 1 and stuffed RB Henry Josey, forcing an MU field goal.

"He just always had that ability to read a play and get himself through the line to make a play," Bowman said.

Edmond called Bowman during the first half of spring practice and told Bowman to be sure to be at the Spring Game on April 1. Bowman got choked up a couple of times talking about Edmond.

"Steve is one of those kids you are so fortunate to get to coach," Bowman said. "He's just a great kid.

"He is quiet. He's not loud or someone who goes around talking. He just does his job. He would rather be fishing than doing just about anything. But he loves football and has an uncoachable feel for the game."


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