GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You don’t find many kids growing up Florida fans in Texas, but Javier Edwards is one of them.
The junior college defensive tackle began rooting for the Gators when he was 8 years old, which is why he committed on the spot, Thursday, when they offered him.
“There was no hesitation,” Edwards said. “My older cousin has always liked Florida. I hung with him when I was little and it kind of stuck with me. I fell in love with Florida and that’s where I wanted to go.”
Two coaches on Florida’s defensive staff have wanted him for three years.
Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins coached at Mississippi State when the Bulldogs offered Edwards in May of 2014. Defensive line coach Chris Rumph was with Texas in 2014 and had his sights set on the Houston product from Aldine Davis High School.
But Edwards didn’t have the grades to qualify, so he stayed in-state and went to Blinn junior college.
“I used to hang out with the wrong crowd and didn’t go to high school,” Edwards said. “I just fell behind and couldn’t catch back up or pass my classes. It was frustrating.
“Lord knows I did not want to go Blinn. I wasn’t smiling on signing day or nothing. I was just upset because I knew what I was capable of.”
So did Collins and Rumph. They monitored Edwards last year and his maturation off the field, but he gained more than 40 pounds.
“On my freshman highlights, I was 378,” said Edwards, who weighed 330 pounds in high school. “That year was tough on me. A lot of Big 12 schools motivated me. I’m not going to say who, but they told me I was too big and they couldn’t use me because I wouldn’t be able to play against spread offenses. So I kept working harder to get an SEC offer like Florida.”
Edwards has drastically changed his diet since his season ended and said he’s now down to 350 pounds. He wants to eventually get back to his high school weight.
“Some coaches don’t like me because of my size, but Florida told me I’m exactly what they need,” Edwards said. “The entire coaching staff called me when they offered. I talked to everybody and they were excited. They just made me feel comfortable and wanted, like I belong there.”