Football fans across the state should know all about Donovan Edwards by now. The four-star running back desperately wants to play his senior year this fall, as West Bloomfield should be a contender for its first state championship.
Edwards, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound back with 4.4 speed, is ranked the No. 1 player in Michigan and the No. 2 running back nationally by 247Sports. He earned a spot on The Detroit News Dream team last season after rushing for 1,326 yards and 16 TDs while averaging nine yards a carry to lead West Bloomfield to an OAA Red Division title and Division 1 regional final appearance.
Edwards also had 33 receptions for 419 yards and five TDs, and he is also able to block at a high level, making him one of the nation’s most sought-after recruits.
Edwards has 46 offers, adding more than a dozen since the calendar flipped to 2020, including one from Alabama Jan. 7, another from Oklahoma a week later and one from Auburn on March 25.
The COVID-19 pandemic has halted some of the recruiting efforts aimed at Edwards. He had planned to visit Florida, Florida State and Miami during spring break. Edwards says he is staying in shape, but the pandemic has led him to believe he won’t make a decision until the fall. He added, however, he would commit “whenever the time feels right.”
“I’ve been working out here at home,” Edwards told The Detroit News on Tuesday. “I go out in the back yard and try to finesse my receiving routes.”
Edwards said he’s been a fan of Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State while growing up, and he has teammates from West Bloomfield – linebacker Cornell Wheeler and safety Makari Paige – who will be playing this fall at Michigan.
Now, Edwards has other top programs like Oklahoma ramping up near the top of his list.
“I still want to look at other schools; I’ve only seen a couple of schools,” Edwards said. “I have really great options and I want to be able to look at schools that I’ve been thinking about going to since I was a kid. Since I have the opportunity I want to be able to take it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I want to be able to take (visits) before I make up my mind.
Edwards stays in touch with college coaches despite the lack of in-person communication.
“Yes, through text messages and calls – get a lot of them,” Edwards said. “The best thing through all of this (recruiting) is being able to build relationships with coaches. I’ve always looked up to DeMarco Murray, and with him retiring from football, now he’s coaching at Oklahoma and he recruited me, so I’m trying to build a relationship with him and relationships are really a big part of it to me.”
Murray joined Lincoln Riley’s staff at Oklahoma this past winter after coaching at Arizona last fall.
Edwards is also building a relationship with new Michigan State coach Mel Tucker.
“I went to the Michigan State versus Ohio State basketball game; I was able to speak with him and the coaching staff,” said Edwards. “They are very good people and I believe that they are going to do a really good job at Michigan State. Coach Tucker is real enthusiastic and gives out a lot of positive energy.”
While Edwards wasn’t a Michigan fan growing up, he is a fan of the program now, especially with his former teammates following the footsteps of his West Bloomfield coach, Ron Bellamy, to the Wolverines. Bellamy played for Lloyd Carr at Michigan from 1999-2002.
Are the Wolverines still in the picture?
“Yes, for sure,” Edwards said. “It’s the hometown state and I feel at home here. It would be cool playing with them (Wheeler, Paige) again.”
While Edwards’ offer list continues to grow, he says he gets excited with each one.
“No doubt, got one from Alabama in early January, just got one from Auburn last month,” Edwards said.
Edwards has also received multiple offers to play in postseason national games. He has already accepted from the Under Armour All-American Game. Invitations from the Adidas All-American Game and the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Game in Hawaii are also on the table.
“Still deciding on the Polynesian one,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play in Hawaii.”
Edwards attended a 7-on-7 competition at Farmington Hills Harrison in 2018, prior to his sophomore season and just after getting an offer from Michigan. He was 180 pounds then and ran a 4.6 40. He is now stronger and faster at 195 with 4.4 speed.
More than likely there will be no 7-on-7s this summer, but Edwards hopes his senior season will start on time. West Bloomfield is scheduled to open Aug. 28 against Macomb L’Anse Creuse North.
“I feel I’ve become more of a leader; I like stepping up to the plate when necessary,” he said. “I want to win the state championship this season, that’s my goal.”