While his former teammates ran 40-yard dashes and shuttle drills for NFL scouts, the Duke football player with the most pro potential was mostly a spectator on Wednesday.
A serious knee injury suffered last September has DeVon Edwards limited in what he can do physically less than six months after he underwent reconstructive surgery. That meant no running when Duke held its annual Pro Timing Day at the Pascal Field House indoor facility,
When he was on the field, Edwards was among the nation’s most productive players on defense and special teams.
He’s hoping the impressive game film, which will show his six career kickoff returns for touchdowns and his five interceptions, will keep NFL teams interested while he’s healing.
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Duke coach David Cutcliffe is confident it will.
“DeVon Edwards is just such a football player,” Cutcliffe said. “I encourage those guys to just continue to watch the tape. Not just last year but the year before that. Go back to the year before that and the year before that. He’s put together four, well, three and a third, seasons on tape that may be as good as you can find in college football.”
Edwards was a three-time all-American and all-ACC pick as a kick returner, finishing his career one touchdown return short of the all-time NCAA record of seven. He made the all-ACC team as a safety as a sophomore and a junior.
On a kickoff return during Duke’s 38-35 win at Notre Dame on Sept. 24, Edwards suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He was able to lift weights during upper-body workouts for scouts on Wednesday but he didn’t do any of the running drills.
While fellow defensive backs Corbin McCarthy (4.4 seconds) and Breon Borders (4.46) posted impressive 40-yard dash times, Edwards had to stand by and remain patient.
“It’s tough,” Edwards said. “Some days I wake up and say, “what made this happen to me?’ “But it’s just something that’s only going to make me stronger. It hurts when I see them running and getting times and competing against each other. It bothers me. But my time is coming.”
A healthy Edwards was projected to hear his name called when the NFL Draft is held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. Instead, he’s hoping someone takes a chance on him in the draft or, more likely, he signs as an undrafted free agent.
“We will be watching DeVon Edwards play football next year on Sundays and I believe that deep in my heart,” Cutcliffe said.
Edwards is progressing physically as he’d hoped. He’s doing his rehabilitation work at Duke while working toward his Master’s degree in liberal studies. He’s currently writing his thesis.
While his goal is to play this season, he’s also realistic. Edwards intends to be healthy so he can take his best shot at a professional football career.
“I want to be back to normal,” Edwards said. “If it takes longer than 6-8 months, then it takes longer than 6-8 months. We haven’t set a date when I’m going to be healthy. At the end of the day, we could start all over next January and do Pro Day all over again. There’s nothing saying I have to be ready this year. If I’m feeling comfortable, give it a shot. But when I give it my shot I want it to be me at my best. So if I’m not at my best I’m going to keep waiting it out. But hopefully I’ll be ready this summer and somebody will give me a shot.”