INDIANAPOLIS — Tennessee State guard Kadeem Edwards feels he has something to prove since he’s from a “small” school.
His Tigers teammate, tight end A.C. Leonard, wants to represent the school well, though he still has friends from his freshman season at Florida.
|Guard Kadeem Edwards said he has pride in representing Tennessee State this week as he participates in the invite-only NFL Combine.|
Edwards and Leonard went through media sessions Thursday and will hit the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for timing and testing drills and workouts Saturday at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
“I just have to go out there and play every snap because everybody will try to take me and call me out,” Edwards said. “Just because I’m a small-school guy, they want to see what I’m about so I’ve got to prove to everybody that I belong.”
Edwards said the combine, where he’s one of more than 330 draft-eligible players who have been invited to meet with NFL team executives, coaches and scouts, undergo medical exams and perform on the field, was quite a new experience because he never received much attention from college recruiters.
“I’ve dreamed it since I was little,” Edwards said. “I would go in the backyard and do extra wind sprints.”
Edwards and Leonard were key players on Tigers squads that went a combined 18-7 the past two seasons. Even though many of their home games were at LP Field, the combine experience is bringing them closer to professional football.
“It’s a mindset. The whole game is a mindset,” Edwards said. “It’s just preparing and knowing your opponent. You can take his disadvantages and make them your advantages.”
Leonard posted 34 receptions for 441 yards with five touchdowns in 2013 and 51 catches for 733 yards with six TDs in 2012. He decided to forego his senior year of eligibility, but said he was grateful for the opportunity he got at Tennessee State.
“It humbled me and gave me a chance to grow. I had to grow. At Florida, I was very immature,” Leonard said. “If I got in trouble at Tennessee State, that was it, so I had to focus and get right. I would say Tennessee State really put me on the map. I had two good years and I love my HBC (Historically Black College).”
WKU REPRESENTED TOO: Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews, who played high school football at Fort Campbell, said Friday during his media session that he also has pride in representing a “small” school.
“It means a lot, a small Sun Belt school getting the recognition and giving a chance for the next people behind me, so it’s a great honor,” Andrews said. “(You want to) make it more of a great opportunity for the next person.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m blessed,” Andrews added of the experience. “At first I felt nervous, but after training for this whole event, I’m confident now and ready to get it over with.”
Andrews has put up big numbers. He led the nation in all-purpose yardage with 3,161 in 2012 and 2,619 in 2013. The combined 5,770 all-purpose yards set an NCAA record for a two-year span. He had 1,730 rushing yards as a senior after setting a school record of 1,728 the previous season.
While the nerves have faded, Andrews said he’s “anxious” for the arrival of his on-field component that is scheduled for Sunday when running backs, quarterbacks and receivers participate in the drills.
Andrews won’t be alone in representing the Hilltoppers, who also have linebacker Andrew Jackson (media session Saturday, workout Monday) and SS Jonathan Dowling (media Sunday, workout Tuesday) scheduled to participate in the combine.