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SNOW HILL — Willie Edwards wasted no time putting his stamp on his arrival into high school football.
Playing in his first varsity contest against Charles B. Aycock as a freshman, Edwards received the handoff on his very first carry, sprinting 61 yards to the end zone to clinch the game as the Rams went on to win 27-20.
That was only a precursor of things to come for Edwards, who steadily morphed into an every down, workhorse style of running back for head coach Allen Wooten and Greene Central.
He’ll now carry that into his opportunity at the collegiate level after recently signing a National Letter of Intent with Benedict College of the NCAA Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Edwards, a 5-foot-9, 210-pound bowling ball of a back, chose Benedict over interest from the likes of North Carolina Central, Gardner-Webb, Lenoir-Rhyne, Chowan and Mars Hill.
“I’ve got more explosiveness,” Edwards said of his development from his freshmen to senior year. “I like to run between the tackles, and take it outside if it’s necessary.”
Edwards did just that during his senior campaign, leading all rushers in The Wilson Times readership area with 1,520 yards on the ground and 28 TDs on his way to Player of the Year in the 2-A Eastern Carolina Conference.
Indeed, those are workhorse numbers — which is exactly what the Tigers were looking for in their recruiting process.
“They see me as another workhorse,” Edwards said. “They wanted me and asked if I could carry the load. I was like ‘Yeah, I can.’
The son of Terry and Lakisha Dawson of Snow Hill plans to major in business administration. Benedict, a school in Columbia, South Carolina, finished 7-2 last season and ended the year on a five-game winning streak for head coach Mike White.
“If we had the weight room open, he wasn’t missing out on that,” Wooten said of Edwards. “There’s nobody that lifted as hard as him the last four years, that’s for sure. He leads us in all three major lifting categories by quite a margin, and to keep his speed and shiftiness with that is a testament to what kind of athlete he is. I really think he’s going to surprise some people down there. Some of the bigger schools were worried about his height, so sometimes you’ve got to go make your own way somewhere smaller and see where that takes you.”