Monday, September 24, 2007

Grambling greats: Clyde Edwards

Edwards steps in quickly with Douglas' departure
August 27, 2004

By Nick Deriso
GRAMBLING- Talk about playing like there is no tomorrow.

Grambling State's Clyde Edwards, a true freshman, is not only pushing for a starting position but can be found wearing departed All-American Tramon Douglas' No. 5 jersey.

In any other year, the talented Houston-Westbury High recruit might be redshirted. But not when the head coach has the word "interim" in front of his title.

"You've got to win now," Coach Melvin Spears admits. "But there's always a sense of urgency. One of the things that players really appreciate is that you let the best guy play. Seniority doesn't rule here. It's about playing on the field."

Spears took over after former coach Doug Williams unexpectedly resigned in February for a personnel job in the NFL. But Spears was only given one season to prove himself. School officials have said that a national search will begin to find a permanent replacement for Williams at the end of the year.

But in many ways the transition has been seamless: Spears had been Williams' offensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the previous six seasons. Not much changed - even if Williams' outsized personality is often missed.

GSU's conference-best passing attack, with Douglas' graduation, finds itself in a similar situation.
"The funny thing about our offense is that it doesn't revolve around a go-to guy," said Sammy White, who was promoted to offensive coordinator after seven years coaching receivers.

While Douglas had 77 catches, returning senior Moses Harris had 50. Three other receivers combined for 99 receptions in 2003, as well. But Harris will have to find consistency in his final season of college eligibility.

That's a common theme for a team that was behind or tied after the first quarter of play in half of its games last season. A notorious slow starter, Grambling State only scored more points in the first half on three occasions a year ago.

"What we have been concentrating on is getting our guys to play consistently, every down," Spears said. "If we can do that, then the season will take care of itself."

New defensive coordinator Luther Palmer has installed a self-contained defense designed to thwart the SWAC's high-powered passing attacks.

"It's more man-to-man coverage, rather than zone," said top defender Kenneth Pettway. The team's leading tackler in 2003, Pettway will split time between the linebacker and defensive end positions.

The active aggression of one of the SWAC's best defensive lines should ease the transition for a remade secondary that lost three of four starters - including the team's top interception threat in corner Octavius Bond.

"The bottom line is making plays," said Palmer, who joined the GSU staff after a long tenure at Virginia Union. "With the athleticism these guys already possess, all we have to do is coach them into technical superiority."

One game short of an historic fourth straight trip to the SWAC title game in 2003, the coaches focused on small details this off-season.

Personal responsibility has been the order of the day. Everybody has to tend to his own business this season.

"We're taking it one game at a time," Eugene said. "At Grambling, every game is big. Everybody brings their best game to our stadium."

Look for a more nuanced attack on offense, as Grambling State begins to fully explore the talents of junior running back Ab Kuuan - who narrowly edged out Eugene as the team's leading rusher in 2003.

Key rushing performances - including the first seven touchdowns by running backs - came in a trio of games after Douglas aggravated a knee injury in Week 4 against McNeese State. Two late rushing touchdowns then sealed a win on a rain-soaked field at Jackson State.

"We know the talent we have at the receiver spot," said Lance Wright, the senior center. "Every team we play has got to honor the pass. The run came out at the perfect time last year, when we needed to change the pace a little. Now, teams will have to respect the run, too."

But there will never be three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust swirling up from the bottom of Robinson Stadium. In a season where the future is now, a quick-strike offense still makes sense.

"With Bruce, the balance is going to tip toward passing," White said. "You've got to use your best players to the best of their abilities."

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Saving the day has been child's play for GSU freshmen
September 20, 2004

By Nick Deriso
CINCINNATI- Remember when they used to make freshmen carry the older players' shoulder pads back in after practice?

Now, they're carrying the team.

Witness Grambling State's first win of the 2004 season. Quarterback Brandon Landers hands off to Landry Carter, who runs it in from four yards in the third quarter on Saturday against Bethune-Cookman, GSU's first points on the day.

Defensive end Jason Banks also notches two sacks for 14 yards in losses.

Landers tosses a 46-yard scoring strike to Clyde Edwards to get GSU to within two points.

Every one of the playmakers mentioned is a freshman. GSU would beat Bethune-Cookman 24-23 on Saturday in the Ohio Classic.

"I couldn't ask for anything better," said Landers, a Carroll High product named offensive player of the year just last spring by The News-Star. The ... high school ... offensive player of the year.

"To be on the Cincinnati Bengals field, being a young player," Landers marvelled from inside Paul Brown Stadium. "I've waited for this my whole life."

His whole life. Landers was born on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 1985.

But we've never seen anything like this before: Kid's stuff is now the stuff of legend. Landers has led GSU to 32 fourth-quarter points in three games.

"Leaders," Landers mused, and he couldn't be more right, "are born."

Born in the second Reagan administration.

And not just Brandon Landers, who replaced All-American Bruce Eugene after the senior suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game of 2004.

First-year Georgia running back Danny Ware exploded for three scores against Georgia Southern. Tennessee's Brent Schaeffer became the first true freshman to start an SEC opener since 1945. A youngster named Darius Walker might have turned Notre Dame's season around with 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a second-week win over Michigan.

Landers' first start was somewhat less glamorous. But playing through it made him a better quarterback in Cincinnati.

"They were sending six or seven people at me last week (against Alabama A&M)," said Landers. "So (interim GSU) Coach (Melvin) Spears told me that we were going to the shotgun (against BCC), and that I should be patient and stay with it. He put the ball in my hands."

That Alabama A&M nightmare included just 11 completions on 40 tries. GSU didn't convert a single third-down - putting freshman punter Tim Manuel just one punt away from the school record for attempts in a game.

"Bouncing back from a performance like that," said Eugene, "is all about character."

Alabama A&M was credited with a five sacks, but Landers was hurried and pushed around all night.

"He's taken so many licks," marvels offensive coordinator Sammy White. "To keep getting up, that says a lot about him."

Landers would flourish Saturday in the shotgun, a scheme that made all the more sense when senior center Lance Wright left the game with an injury.

"What we were trying to do was to take some of the pressure off of Brandon," said Spears. "When you get down a couple of touchdowns, you've got to keep passing. But we wanted to give him a better opportunity. At halftime, we told him: `It's your show. Show us what you've got.' "

But just in case the freshmen get too comfortable, however, note that Landers' first collegiate win came with some veteran help.

Junior Henry Tolbert made a key scoring grab to narrow BCC's lead to two points in the third quarter. And Eugene attended Saturday's game, encouraging the team during warmups and helping out with playcalling upstairs with running backs coach Vyron Brown.

"We're going to keep him around," Spears said of Eugene, laughing. "He'll basically be our cheerleader - and he'll also help us with Brandon."

Saturday's game was Eugene's first since undergoing knee surgery a week ago on Thursday.

"I can help him, because I've been there," said Eugene, who was given wide latitude last season to audible from the line based on what he saw on the field. "That hands-on experience will make a difference."

A Landers scramble for a quick 53 yards seemed to loosen up this offense in the third quarter. The team's biggest second-half adjustment had to do with confidence.

"Those are the intangibles that Brandon brings to the table," said Spears. "He had great poise. In the end, he looked like Bruce Eugene back there - and that's a good comparison."

The move into the booth will also ensure that Eugene can stay for the entirety of the game, without enduring whatever pain comes from standing on the sidelines. Eugene, who moved around on crutches, is applying for another year of eligibility on a medical waiver.

"Everything is progressing very well for Bruce," said Spears, who is also taking a more prominent role in the offense, after concentrating on the defense early in the season. "As he heals, we'd like to give him an opportunity to look at the game from a different perspective. Hopefully, when he gets back, he will have a better understanding - and be a better player."

You could criticize GSU's hard-headed focus on making Landers pass. After all, he had attempted 62 throws in five quarters of play before arriving in Cincinnati. But whether they ran or he threw, there was going to be a learning curve.

"When you lose your trigger guy, it makes you a little stagnated - until you get the new trigger guy in place and working," said Spears. "I knew you would start seeing an outstanding quarterback soon - one who happens to be a freshman - in Brandon Landers."

NICK DERISO, named columnist of the year this summer by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, is sports editor at The News-Star, 411 N. Fourth St., Monroe, 71201. Contact him at (318) 362-0233 or at

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GSU putting its hands together
WRs Harris, Edwards form tough duo
April 8, 2005

By Nick Deriso
GRAMBLING - Grambling State senior Moses Harris has returned from an ankle injury. But that doesn't mean Clyde Edwards, last year's top receiver, is going to sit.

Coaches are using them in complementary roles during spring sessions, at the so-called X and Z spots, in an effort to confuse and stretch opposing defenses.

"I'd say my ankle is about 90 percent healed," Harris said, as Thursday's practice got under way. "I feel a whole lot better being out here with my team, though."

Harris appears ready to make good the promise of a 50-catch 2003 season, when he averaged 65 yards in receptions per game. Lined up on the other end of the line from Edwards this week, he has provided a double-barrel receiving threat in practice.

"He's not 100 percent, but he still looks good," said Sammy White, the former GSU receiving star and coach who was named offensive coordinator before last season. "He is running good, disciplined routes and he's catching the ball. Having another go-to guy out there feels good."

While Harris healed in 2004, Edwards blossomed into a freshman of the year candidate - shooting into the starting lineup with gutsy play and calm reserve. But Edwards sometimes struggled to get open, because opponents keyed on him.

"Moses being back is a big plus," said White. "Now, it'll be tough on any defense with him playing across from Clyde."

Head coach Melvin Spears called it a welcome sight, adding that GSU hasn't had two legitimate top-end speedsters for some time.

"When you look at when we had Scotty (Anderson) and Ellis Spears (in 2000), it has always been easier when you have two receivers to do the things that we like to do in a vertical, stretch offense," said Spears, GSU's offensive coordinator back then.

That eye-popping aerial attack, with former coach Doug Williams as its architect, would win the first of three straight conference titles for Grambling. But the offense would come to rely more on possession receiving from the sticky-fingered Tramon Douglas while Harris matured.

A part-time performer in 2002 as a sophomore backup to Thyron Anderson, Harris emerged as the team's No. 2 receiver behind Douglas in 2003.

His best showing that season was against Alabama A&M in Shreveport, when Harris had 140 yards and a touchdown on just five catches. He also had seven receptions for 111 yards in 2003 against Mississippi Valley State, with another score.

Those performances earned Harris a preseason first-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection last year, and he was the presumptive No. 1 receiver.

His spring was highlighted a season ago by a stellar Black and Gold game performance, where Harris had two touchdown receptions - first for 70 yards and then for 24. Harris even scored from 74 yards out on a receiver reverse.

But his senior season came crashing to a halt on Aug. 30, when Texas Tech transfer Ivory McCann fell on his ankle in the north end zone of the practice field.

The unit was left without its top target.

"Clyde grew up really fast," said White. "He was our leading receiver last year - that's saying a lot. But we lost 50 catches with Moses gone. With him out there too, Clyde can't go anywhere but up."

That's saying something, considering Edwards bested all GSU receivers with 30 catches for 608 yards in 2004.

"I was happy," Harris said of Edwards, "to see someone step up."

Coaches have been impressed with their first glimpses of these two on the field at the same time.

"Moses and Clyde complement each other," Spears said. "Defenses can't roll to one player or the other. Add an outstanding guy in the slot, and you can stretch the whole field - and make those defenses earn their pay."

The team is also eagerly awaiting the arrival of two transfers, LeKeldrick Bridges from Georgia Tech and Brandon Tobias from Wisconsin.

"We have some more talent coming in the fall," Harris said. "This will be one of the fastest receiving corps that Grambling has ever had."

Catch 'em
Here's a look at GSU's top receivers in these spring sessions:
--Clyde Edwards, 2004: 30 catches for 608 yards and four scores. Averaged: 55 yards per game.
--Moses Harris, 2003: 50 catches of 713 yards and six scores. Averaged: 65 yards per game.
- Nick Deriso

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Getting to know... Clyde Edwards
October 4, 2005

By Nick Deriso
It's perhaps no surprise that Clyde Edwards, quiet as a church mouse during the week, sneaks up on people every weekend.

Even his coaches.

"He's a guy who doesn't make a lot of mistakes," said GSU coach Melvin Spears, "but also a guy who doesn't say much. He's a (Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer John) Stallworth type, in that at the end of the day he's had six or seven catches, because he's so mild mannered."

Saturday's Prairie View game was an apt example. The headlines went to his quarterback, who spread seven touchdowns to four receivers and a running back.

Perhaps most notable, however, was the second of Edwards' scores - this staggering 74-yard catch and run. Not only was that the game's longest reception, it was Eugene's 94th career passing touchdown, one more than the school record.

Not bad for Edwards, a guy who suddenly has to share attention with two seniors who battled injuries last year, Moses Harris (broken ankle) and Henry Tolbert (nagging hip).

"It's a learning process," said Edwards, GSU's leading receiver in 2004 while the others recuperated. "I know these guys are older and they have been here, that they have been through it. I've got to sit back and learn from them while I can."

Edwards is bolstered by an offensive scheme that is nothing if not democratic.

Here's what Grambling offensive coordinator Sammy White says, by way of explanation, when asked where the plays are designed to go: "Whoever is open. That's the way this offense works."
Clearly: Eleven GSU players caught a pass against Prairie View.

"It doesn't matter," Edwards demurred, "because we are all family here. We will compete because we are all competitors. But in the end, we are all one team."

He quietly amassed a pair of scores and more than 100 receiving yards, a career day for others, against Prairie View.

Discord isn't in this guy's vocabulary. Well, it is - since Edwards is one of the team's sharpest minds. But it isn't when he's in the locker room.

"I know they aren't going to be here forever," Edwards said of Harris and Tolbert. "I hope to be better prepared to play when they leave."

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Game week focus on...
October 11, 2005

By Nick Deriso
Grambling State's pass offense is tops in the Southwestern Athletic Conference again, averaging 332 yards per game now that senior quarterback Bruce Eugene has returned from injury.

Eugene - who leads the conference in passing and total offense - gives the bulk of the credit to his receiving corps.

After all, GSU boasts four of the current Top 10 receivers in the SWAC for yards per game: No. 1 Henry Tolbert, No. 5 George Piggott, No. 7 Clyde Edwards and No. 8 Moses Harris.

"I'll take my wide receivers over anybody's defensive backs," Eugene said. "All I have got to do is get it to them - then they make a guy miss. If they want to come up and challenge us, we are up to it. If they play zone, that's fine too. We will try to pick you apart."

Eugene has been democratic in distributing the ball, as well. Eleven different players have receiving stats through the Mississippi Valley win. Six players have scored, with four of them scoring twice or more.

"We have so many guys competing," said GSU coach Melvin Spears. "But when you talk about wideouts, there has always been outstanding wideouts here."

Grambling is just .3 of a point away from topping the SWAC in scoring per game - and 15 of its 18 touchdowns arrived through the air. More than 1,300 of GSU's 1,659 total yards of offense have been courtesy of a Eugene pass.

Despite this year's early successes, Eugene shies away from calling this his best group of receivers. Not yet, anyway.

"I broke a lot of records in 2002," Eugene said of a season where he finished atop Division I in both total offense and points on the way to SWAC Offensive Player of the Year honors.

"But these receivers could get there," he added. "They have the talent."

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Missing in action

April 01, 2006

Junior receiver Clyde Edwards didn't appear in today's Black and Gold Game, a controlled scrimmage to end Grambling's spring sessions.

GSU coach Melvin Spears has kept him out of practice not because of any injury - but to avoid one. Spears lost top target Moses Harris in preseason practice back in 2004 when a defender fell on his ankle.

"We're familiar with our thoroughbreds," Spears said. "We wanted to give these younger guys a chance."

So, we saw breakout performances from LaKeldrick "Burner" Bridges and Kovarus Hills.

Still, that doesn't explain senior Henry Tolbert's continued presence. Spears couldn't get him off the field: "He just wants to work," said Spears, chuckling.

Defensive tackle Melvin Matthews also missed the scrimmage, after the unexpected death of his father. The team will travel to Clinton on Monday to attend the funeral.

Edwards, for his part, said he expects a smooth return in the fall."I'm an athlete, so I want to be out there," Edwards said. "But it's for the best."

The Houston native developed a special connection as a freshman with quarterback Brandon Landers in 2004, leading all receivers. Bruce "The Big easy" Eugene returned from injury in Edwards' sophomore year, and Edwards held steady at No. 2 on the team in receptions and yards last year.

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Duo tones
June 20, 2006

Grambling receivers Henry Tolbert and Clyde Edwards have been named the No. 2 tandem in Division I-AA by The Sports Network's Matt Dougherty.

Together, they had 128 catches for 2,406 yards and 29 touchdowns, averaging nearly 20 yards a catch - each - as Grambling won its 21st Southwestern Athletic Conference championship in 2005."

The duo should help keep the Tiger offense rolling without (departed SWAC offensive player of the year Bruce) Eugene." Dougherty writes. He also ranked Tolbert at No. 4 in Division I-AA individually, while Edwards was No. 16.

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Plenty to grab
GSU not lacking in experienced receivers this season
August 14, 2006

By Nick Deriso
GRAMBLING — Forget Grambling State's triumphal conference championship last year. With this team, all anybody wants to talk about is 2004.

That was the last time redshirt sophomore quarterback Brandon Landers was under center, filling in for the injured Bruce Eugene.

Without Eugene, GSU would go 6-5. A season later, with Eugene back, the Tigers won a title at 11-1.

GSU's receivers have a unified response on the nagging issue of '04: That was then.

"Most people felt Bruce carried us," said junior wideout Clyde Edwards, Landers' top target when both were freshmen. "That's just more motivation."

Edwards has added 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns to his resume since 2004.

Back then, Henry Tolbert was in the midst of converting from running back to receiver — and was bothered all year by a nagging hip injury. A campaign later, he could be found leading the Southwestern Athletic Conference in receptions, yards, touchdowns and catches per game.

Tim Abney was also out in '04. He returned from a groin problem and, even missing three games, finished fourth among GSU receivers for yards and touchdowns in 2005.

"This is a veteran group of guys, guys who have helped us win big games," said GSU coach Melvin Spears. "Brandon Landers has had a chance to become familiar with them, practicing behind Bruce last year and competing this fall. If they work hard and remember to do the little things, we could be right there in the end."

That's to say nothing of LaKeldrick "Burner" Bridges, a Georgia Tech transfer who is expected to garner playing time. Junior Kovarus Hills and sophomore Nick Lewis are also having terrific camps.

"There could be as many as eight receivers ready to play in September," said Grambling offensive coordinator Sammy White. "We sure could have used that experience two years ago."

Back in 2004, the GSU offense had 2,004 fewer passing yards, 40 fewer touchdown receptions and 1,900 fewer yards of total offense than it did last season.

Again, though, that was then.

"Landers has had a year to sit behind Bruce and mature," Tolbert said. "I believe he can take us right back."

Tolbert, of course, is the known commodity — the one getting all the preseason awards, from All-SWAC to spots on The Sports Network and Black Athlete Sports Network I-AA All-America squads.

Bridges has stolen his share of headlines, though: After all, he had a stunning 168 yards and a touchdown on just three catches in the Black and Gold scrimmage to end the spring sessions — and he could have had more.

Two 60-yard passes were badly overthrown, though Bridges was open; he also had a 48-yard reception taken away on a teammate penalty.

"He's really special, with so much consistency," said White, a former Grambling and NFL receiver who coached the unit under Doug Williams for six seasons.

"LaKeldrick Bridges, you can tell is just waiting to break free," White said. "As good as he is in practice, we will see more I suspect in the games."

Some question Bridges' toughness as an every-down wideout, since he's slight at 6-2 and 185 pounds. But the Dallas native has already wowed the coaches by taking a few good licks, then popping right back up.

"He's stronger than he looks," White said. "He played against some of the best athletes in the state of Texas, so he knows how to take a hit."

Edwards, as is his way, looks to be the sleeper — a quiet collector of impressive stats.

"You put on game film, and he's so productive," White said. "Clyde runs routes with so much precision, and rarely has a drop."

That's part of what gives the team uncommon confidence, even with Eugene gone. Get it to us, each of the wideouts has said separately, and we'll do the rest.

"I'm looking for this receiver group to be one of the best in the league," Spears said. "We have a mixture of players who will come in and do a very good job for us. That should help smooth the way."

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Edwards does everything
December 07, 2006

Grambling junior Clyde Edwards, a player of stirring athletic ability, played most of the season finale at cornerback - then was named All-Southwestern Athletic Conference as a receiver just days later.

"He's the most complete football player on this year," enthused GSU coach Melvin Spears. "He makes plays on both sides of the ball."

Edwards led the league in 2006 with 56 catches, and was second both with an average of 72 receiving yards per game and with 789 total yards. Then he held Alcorn State's Charlie Spiller -- ranked 10th in the SWAC for all-purpose yards to just one catch for 16 yards.

"He stands for everything that Grambling is," Spears said. "He slowed down the best receiver in our league -- besides ours, of course."

Edwards, named GSU's freshman of the year in 2004, now has more than 2,300 career yards. Over that span, he has carried a GPA that ranks amongst the highest on the roster.

And he shows up big at key moments, from that critical score in the nailbiter against Bethune as a freshman, to his season-high 161 yards in a hometown playing of the Bayou Classic as a junior to that two-touchdown performance in the home opener against Jackson this season.

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The junior jinx?
March 13, 2007

Clyde Edwards knows all about what happened to the last few standout Grambling receivers during their senior years.


Tramon Douglas and Henry Tolbert, who scorched their way through the conference (not to mention Grambling's record books) as juniors, ended up struggling with inconsistency and injury a season later.

Edwards just doesn't think it applies to him.

"They both had monster junior years," he said. "I had a good season last year, but not nearly as big as theirs. I've still got a lot to prove."

Like whether he can break the jinx.Douglas had 787 fewer yards and 15 fewer catches between his junior and senior campaigns. For Tolbert, it was 661 fewer yards and 26 fewer catches (as well as 15 fewer touchdowns).

They both missed time with injuries, including a badly damaged knee for Douglas.

It's almost becoming a tradition lately at Grambling, though: Moses Harris had 12 fewer catches and 108 fewer yards, though he was out a year with that broken ankle between his junior and senior seasons. But Levi Washington also had 14 fewer catches and 28 fewer yards in his final year. That's powerful mojo.

You go back to what Edwards said about big years: He actually had 226 more yards a sophomore than he did last season. Maybe he's got a point.

"I won't get complacent," Edwards insists. "I'll tell you that."

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Silent, but deadly
March 24, 2007

The play that produced Grambling senior Clyde Edwards' 36-yard third-quarter reception during today's Black and Gold spring game, the one that set up his own six-yard score, is a practice-field favorite.

"It's especially designed to be a big play," Edwards said.

And there apparently won't be as many of those in a new GSU offense that looked as measured as its first-year head coach.

Rare today was the four-wide look, and never did we see five receivers and an empty backfield. As familiar as that has become over the last few years, that's not Rod Broadway's style.

Still, there remains a dangerous outside force, if needed. He is an arrow in this offense's quiver that shouldn't be forgotten. In the effort to get back to basics -- as honorable as that may be -- it's important not to forget something.

Clyde Eugene Edwards II.

I call him SBD, silent but deadly. Edwards is as quiet as he is efficient, and Brandon Landers has never had a better relationship with a receiver as a college quarterback.

"He's that guy you can count on," Landers said, marvelling at the thought of Edwards' scoring grab in traffic. "He's someone you can lean on."

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Falling back?
July 19, 2007

It's no surprise, even to the team's best remaining players, that Grambling is getting little notice after a disastrous three-win season.

"We're going to be a young team," said senior GSU receiver Clyde Edwards, a second-team FCS preseason All-American. "And, after what happened last year, that might have some people looking over us."

Street and Smith's 2007 SWAC Preview, in a typical prediction, put Grambling at No. 4 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference's Western division, behind Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Prairie View and Southern.

Guys like Edwards are eating that up. He loves the challenge.

"You take some punches over the course of your career," Edwards said. "I've had some up times at Grambling and some down times. I just want to do my best and go out on a high note."

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Edwards, once quiet, now quite pivotal for Grambling
August 19, 2007

By Nick Deriso
GRAMBLING — The rare performer who is as consistent on the field as he is off, senior Grambling receiver Clyde Edwards still surprises people.

“I’m more of a quiet guy,” the Houston native said, quietly.

He’d like to see his team — a 3-8 disaster last season, GSU is picked by nobody to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Western Division in ’07 — slip up on some people, too.

“As talented as we are, we feel like we can play with anybody,” Edwards said. “Last year, we had what it takes to win, but for a few plays here and there.”

First-year coach Rod Broadway might have trouble sorting out the reasons for that down season — after all, GSU fell six of eight times this year by a touchdown or less. — but not who gives Grambling its best shot at pulling out of the downturn.

That would be Edwards, who enters the season with 2,400 career yards.

“It didn’t take long over the spring to see that he was one of our best players,” Broadway said. “I would like for him to show more leadership, not only with the receiving corps but the entire offense.”

He’s a show-by-doing standout.

“My biggest thing is, I want to lead by example,” Edwards said. “I feel like if I am doing what I need to on the field, then others will follow.”

They’d be following him right into Grambling lore.

If Edwards matches his average over the past two campaigns — 55 catches and 10 touchdowns a year — he will pass Tramon Douglas in the school record books.

His 11 scores last season, even as the team struggled to a 3-8 record, ranks among the best performances in Southwestern Athletic Conference history. Edwards is already No. 13 overall in career yardage among SWAC receivers.

The model of consistency, he has hauled in at least one pass in each of his last 26 games, dating back to 2004. Better still are his trademark acrobatic one-handed grabs, including a dramatic catch against Alabama State at home last season.

He’s the same way off the field, maintaining a 4.0 in seven of his eight semesters at GSU thus far.

“I’ve been blessed; my parents always stressed school, and taking care of things in the classroom,” Edwards said. “Football is what I lived to do. So i just try to do my best to please parents on one side and myself on the other.”

Broadway and first-year offensive coordinator James Spady have made no promises on how they will adapt Grambling’s pass-oriented passing attack, other than to say Edwards will get his touches.

Together last season at North Carolina Central, Broadway and Spady helped craft an attack that led their conference with 211 passing yards per game, while setting school and league records with 24 touchdown passes by a freshman. Broadway’s offense also averaged 30.8 points per game in 2005, a new school record.

“In the past, we were always a home-run team,” Edwards said. “It’s a little bit different now. We are looking to be more of a ball-control offense. I’ve had a chance to sit down and talk with the coaches; they understand our strengths. They know where the talent is, and they will use that.”

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Spreading it around
August 24, 2007

Grambling quarterback Brandon Landers is being asked to do less in the new system being installed by a first-year coaching staff.

The talk has been about managing the game. About taking what they give you. About playing smart.

One thing that won't change: His favorite target, one Clyde Eugene Edwards II.

"Right away, we formed that chemistry," said Edwards, who has caught 86 passes for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns with Landers as a regular starter at GSU in 2004 and '06.

Even Edwards admits, though, that their fluid relationship can occasionally become too much of a good thing. The Landers-Edwards connection comes as a surprise to no one.

"Sometimes, it kind of gets us in trouble," he said. "We almost rely too much on it."

That shouldn't be the case in 2007 with the return of tight end Tim Abney in an offense that stresses short passes. Emerging talents like Nick Lewis and Reggie Jackson should garner some attention -- and Brandon King, who's been working at fullback, also has nice hands and could become a reliable target.

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Edwards has quietly put together career for the ages at Grambling
By Nick Deriso
October 10, 2007

GRAMBLING — He's perched near the edge of some of the most significant receiving marks ever recorded at Grambling State.

Yet Clyde Edwards stands there, somehow, in half-lit anonymity.

Make no mistake: Edwards, a quiet tactician, is well regarded. The senior receiver from Houston just isn't what anybody would call famous.

"I'm not real flashy," Edwards said, "so people tend to overlook me, I guess."
First-year Grambling coach Rod Broadway finds it curious.

"I think Clyde represents everything that is good about college football," Broadway said. "He's a model person, a 4.0 student, and an outstanding football player."

But better than GSU receiving superstars of yesteryear like Trumaine Johnson and Henry Tolbert? What about Tramon Douglas? Scotty Anderson?

Yes and yes. Yes, and yes.

Edwards, with a deftness that somehow has denied him that kind of legendary status, is right there with them.

After adding three catches for 66 yards and a score in last week's 40-0 blowout of Mississippi Valley, Edwards now has made 163 career receptions for 2,720 yards and 31 touchdowns.

With six games left, that's already more career receiving yards than Johnson — a flashy two-time SWAC offensive player of the year in 1980 and '82.

That's also more touchdowns than 2003 all-conference receiver Douglas and just one back from Johnson and Tolbert, who set once-thought unassailable records in 2005-06.

"When you sit down and compare them, he's going to rank above all of them," said Sammy White, a former Grambling receiver who has coached that unit at his alma mater for 10 seasons. "He never stopped working, and now he's quietly passed them all. But his demeanor is one where he won't boast. Quiet people can get left behind the scenes sometimes."

Clyde Edwards is, in fact, the best Southwestern Athletic Conference receiver that no one's ever heard of.

"He can play with anybody in the country; I'm convinced of that," Broadway said. "I was (a former assistant coach) at Florida, I was at North Carolina, Duke and East Carolina, and he could have played on any of those football teams. He's an exceptional talent. I'm glad Clyde's on our team."

His profile has also occasionally been the victim of circumstance. Though Edwards was part of 2005's league title team, Grambling went 6-5 in '04, Edwards' freshman season, and then saw a coaching change after a disastrous 3-8 campaign during his junior campaign in 2006.

Yet Edwards never wavered, even if the team did. His career mark for catches already ranks him at No. 13 all-time among SWAC receivers, a list that includes such luminaries as Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State, 1981-84), Sylvester Morris (Jackson State, 1996-99) and Michael Hayes (Southern, 1999-2002).

White, 1975's SWAC offensive player of the year, recognizes in Edwards the same timeless commitment to craft once demanded of Grambling players by his former mentor, the late Eddie Robinson.

"Coach would have loved him," White said. "Clyde could have played in any era at Grambling. He just comes out and works his butt off."

The GSU offense has diversified with Broadway's arrival, and senior receiver Reginald Jackson has been the beneficiary as opponents belatedly have begun to focus on Edwards.

So far, that's kept Edwards from a signature breakout game. He is averaging just five receptions, 62 yards and one touchdown a game in 2007.

"I'm getting off to a slow start," Edwards said. "I feel like I've got a lot to improve on right now. The offense has changed, but at the same time, I think I can do some things better."

Even at that rate, though, Edwards is still on pace to finish with 193 career catches for 3,092 yards and 37 scores for Grambling — besting Anderson for scores, tying Douglas for receptions and finishing second to Anderson in yardage.

Those numbers also put Edwards at No. 5 all-time in the SWAC, behind only Rice, Texas Southern's Darrell Colbert (1983-86), Hayes and Texas Southern's Donald Narcisse (also 1983-86).

Edwards, a solid and steady presence, somehow overtook some of the league's most recognizable names yet largely avoided making one for himself.

"He's a good person, and that's so important," Broadway said. "He's got good character, and a good work ethic. You can never say enough good about kids like that. Those kids don't get enough headlines. It's always about those who get caught drinking or fighting. They dominate the headlines, where kids like Clyde get some but not nearly as much as he should get."

Edwards says, in the end, he is fine with that. It comes as no surprise that his focus is on the work.

"I can celebrate and think about all of the records later," Edwards said. "What you want out of your season is to have consistency. Over my career I've been able to do that, and I take pride in the fact that my team and my coaches know every Saturday what they are going to get out of me. The rest — hopefully another championship — comes on its own."

1. Scotty Anderson, '98-00, 3,182
2. Henry Tolbert, '03-06, 3,043
3. Tramon Douglas, '00-03, 2,970
4. Clyde Edwards, '04-current, 2,720
5. Trumaine Johnson, '79-82, 2,718

1. Tramon Douglas, '00-03, 193
2. Scotty Anderson, '98-00, 188
3. Henry Tolbert, '03-06, 182
4. Clyde Edwards, '04-current, 163
5. Trumaine Johnson, '79-82, 135

1. Scotty Anderson, '98-00, 35
2. Trumaine Johnson, '79-82, 32
2. Henry Tolbert, '03-06, 32
4. Clyde Edwards, '04-current, 31
5. Tramon Douglas, '00-03, 30

(Through Mississippi Valley game, 2007 season)

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