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Kenneth Boone / The Outlook Benjamin Russell's Gavin Edwards (1) grabs an interception against Stanhope Elmore's Conner Bradford during the 2019 season.

Statistics don’t always tell the full story.

Gavin Edwards didn’t necessarily have the most eye-popping statistics for Benjamin Russell’s football team. Although he did get better and better as the 2019 season went along, what really attracted recruiters to Edwards was the fact he’s the full package.

On National Signing Day on Wednesday, Edwards inked his way to Alabama State University, a Division I program in Montgomery.

“It means a lot to me,” Edwards said. “I started to think this past summer I could go to a Division I school.” 

Edwards was also recruited by programs like Troy, but he said he knew Alabama State was the place he wanted to be early on in his recruiting process.

“I went to a prospect camp this past summer and it just felt like something that was the right fit for me,” Edwards said. “Talking to the coaches and the players and communicating with them, it was just a fun process and a good school. The energy there was great and it was just all-around. The players and coaches were all great.”

Edwards is following in the footsteps of 2019 graduate Kobi Crabb, who was offered a spot at Alabama State after last year’s AHSAA North-South game. Because Crabb has set a good example there, Benjamin Russell coach Kevin Smith is hopeful the Wildcats will have a chance to continue to funnel people into the Hornet program.

“That’s one of the things I said to Gavin is Benjamin Russell got on Alabama State’s radar because of (Crabb),” Smith said. “That’s what (BRHS principal) Dr. (Anthony) Wilkinson always says that you’re on the backs of some of these other people. Any time you got someone there before, that helps. If you’re a recruiter and you know you’ve got someone who’s been here and you like what he’s about, then you’ll go back. That’s why it’s so important.” 

Edwards pulled down a handful of interceptions for the Wildcats this season and although he’s a quiet guy, he became a leader for the defense. He’ll likely be a cornerback at ASU.

“Gavin has got the measurable that (a Division I program) wants,” Smith said. “He is a tall corner and he’s fast. He’s clocked a 4.4 before, and he’s over 6-foot tall. So when you talk about a corner who moves like that, a lot of teams will take chances just based on that. But then you add the fact of Gavin’s work ethic and his film, that puts it all together.”

Before reporting to Alabama State this summer, Edwards still knows he has a lot of work to do. He wants to concentrate on his nutrition as well as getting stronger. He’s a multi-sport athlete, playing basketball and running track for the Wildcats, so that should help him stay in shape as well. He can also use his friendship with Crabb to his advantage.

“We need to get in touch with the coaches down there and he needs to talk with Kobi to find out what are the things he needs to be doing before he gets there,” Smith said. “He’s lucky in that aspect that he’s got somebody down there that he can talk to and say, ‘OK, what do I need to do?’”

In addition to his measurable and his statistics, Smith really felt like Edwards was the whole package and that’s why he’s so excited to have Edwards represent Benjamin Russell.

“It’s always a big deal to have a Division I signee,” Smith said. “That goes back to his work. The program helps him and the people before him help him, but’s also about their determination and their work ethic and their parents’ support and their grades. 

“We’ve had several Division I prospects in the past couple years where when grades come up, there’s a hard line of grades and scores on the ACT that you have to have. If you don’t have them, they can’t even talk to you. So that’s all a credit to Gavin.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.