By Torey Fox
Coming off a 4-8 season the year before, the program welcomed a new football coach — Pete Lembo — in hopes of revitalizing a team and community looking for more success. Yet, the program wasn’t done bringing in young, game-changing talent.
The Cardinals recruited in a 5-foot-10, 219-pound running back named Jahwan Edwards the very same year. He was small, yet powerful and had a passion for football few could ever come close to matching.
“I have a trophy dating back to 1997, PEL Packers, tackle football,” Edwards said. “Football has just been in my life ever since then.”
Growing up wasn’t always the easiest thing for Edwards in Matthews, North Carolina, a large suburb just outside of Charlotte. He lived in a single-parent home without a father figure in his life and struggled mightily to have a relationship with his sister. However, football was an escape for Edwards and the sport consistently played a large role in his decision-making, including his high school education.
“Through the community I was in, everyone played for this team called the Pittsburgh Steelers, an NCYFL [North Carolina Youth Football League] organization,” Edwards said. “Everyone in that organization was going to a predominately black school, East Mecklenburg. That is where I wanted to go originally, the culture, and I wanted to be with my friends. But people were going to college, or at least better colleges at Butler [High School]. So that’s where I moved.”
Despite some personal setbacks during his time in high school, the move to Butler paid off. Edwards rushed for nearly 3,000 yards and tallied 62 touchdowns in his career. He also helped the Bulldogs to back-to-back state championships his junior and senior year. It was also enough to propel him to Ball State, the only Division I program to offer him a scholarship. Edwards didn’t hesitate at the opportunity.
“I told my Mom they were D-1,” Edwards said. “We drove up here the next week, told Coach Lembo I was committing, and that was that. I was so happy.”
At Ball State, Edwards was doubted at the beginning of his career, but his commitment and passion for the game wasn’t. With help from a talented coaching staff, Edwards was molded into a superstar and it showed on the gridiron the moment he took the field.
In four years, Edwards has rushed his way into the Ball State record books. He’s become the program’s all-time leading rusher with 4,558 career rushing yards. He’s also tallied 51 career touchdowns which places not only first all-time at Ball State, but fifth all-time in Mid-American Conference history.
But what name will be printed in those record books? It’s a tougher question to answer than one might think.
“When I first started getting publicity, I was tired of Jahwan,” Edwards explained. “I wanted an alias a little bit. A friend of mine actually came up with the name. I forget the actual conversation, but I was like ‘Quake, yea I’m going with that [and] roll with it.”
With his Ball State career officially over, Quake has his eyes looking towards the next level – the National Football League. The NFL draft begins April 30 in Chicago. It’s an opportunity to not only make the nickname more popular, but an opportunity to rattle the entire country with his talented, head-scratching ability.
“Hard work, dedication, and belief,” Edwards said. “Hopefully, I just get that opportunity. I got the right people in my corner.”