Duke’s DeVon Edwards is proving to be a big a threat to ACC opponents as he was when he wore the Black and Gold for the Alcovy Tigers. Photo: Grant Shorin
COVINGTON — If anyone looked at DeVon Edwards as he walked to the bench at Wallace Wade Stadium on the campus of Duke University on Saturday against N.C. State they would think it was just another defensive series coming to an end at a game.
However, it was anything but another game for the former Alcovy football/basketball player. His three touchdowns and 10 tackles were instrumental in the Blue Devils 38-20 win over the Wolfpack.
“I’m not a big celebrating-type person, he said. “I’m not the type of person that gets the team real hyped and talks to everybody. After the touchdowns I just went back to being me. I guess that’s my way of getting everybody hyped.”
Edwards set several school records and tied an NCAA record that day as well as being named the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week and getting ACC Player of the Week honors.
Edwards, a redshirt freshman, set three single-game records for all other upcoming Duke freshman with his performance. The first was a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown which came in the third quarter to give Duke the 17-13 lead. In three kickoff returns, Edwards also set the record for average with 49.33 yards per return. He set the benchmark with his two interception returns for a touchdown as did his 18 points in one game. He is the first FBS player in the past 10 years to have two interception returns for touchdowns on back-to-back plays and the second in NCAA history.
“I didn’t realize anything until after the game when the coaches were talking to me and telling about a lot of stuff in the locker room,” Edwards said. “It just felt like it was a normal game. I’m just happy to be playing.”
The first interception of 25 yards came with 3:21 left in the game to put Duke up 31-20. The second one of 45 yards came 16 seconds later sealing the victory for the Blue Devils.
“We had some downfalls and some good things happen. But in the end when we gave up a long touchdown I knew we had to do something. I think our confidence was huge and we knew we had to make a play and that just inspired us to go out there and win the game on defense,” Edwards said.
His first touchdown off the interception was fairly easy once he broke from the grip of an offensive lineman. However, the second really showed his heart as he had to weave this way through the Wolfpack players trying to stop him.
“I wanted to score so bad that it was like back in high school when I played running back. I just weaved my way around until I found the endzone,” he said.
Making his performance even more impressive is the fact that the N.C. State game was his second start.
At the beginning of the year, Edwards was playing cornerback before being moved to the safety position by defensive backs coach Derek Jones. The reason for the move was because the Blue Devils safety position needed depth and Jones felt like this might be the quickest way to get Edwards on the field.
“When they saw me play against Navy and they knew I could cover,” Edwards said. “When Dwayne Norman got hurt, that’s when I got my shot. They said I needed to show them something. When I was given the opportunity I knew I couldn’t mess it up because it was my chance to get on the field.”
In his first start against Virginia Tech, Edwards had 12 tackles and three punt returns for 49 yards with his longest being for 20 yards.
Standing at 5-feet, nine-inches, Edwards is one of the shortest players on the team. However, that does not phase him in the least as he goes up against receivers with a good three or more inches of height advantage.
“They might have a height advantage but it doesn’t mean anything once we start playing football because I can still tackle them; I can still guard them; I can still attack the ball,” he said with assurance. “It really doesn’t make a difference. It’s just about how much confidence and how much heart you have. That’s what I believe in.”
The Blue Devils have a chance to win the ACC Coastal Division and play Florida State in the championship game. But for that to happen, Georgia Tech would have to lose to Clemson on Thursday and Duke would have win the rest of their games staring with Miami on Saturday.
“That would be a big thrill and a big thing that this program needs right about now” Edwards said about playing in the championship game. “As to winning out, I look forward to playing one game at a time. If we play our best and come out short we’ll still be satisfied. If we play the way we’re suppose to play I don’t see any other team beating us.”