Former UGA and NFL running back Robert Edwards is the new head football coach at Arlington Christian, a private school located in Fairburn. It is the first coaching job for Edwards, 35, who was picked in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots.
Edwards blew out his knee in the NFL All-Rookie Flag Football game before the Pro Bowl, and didn’t play again until the 2003 season with the Miami Dolphins. Edwards played three seasons in the CFL before retiring in 2007.
Q. What made you want to coach?
A. I wanted be around kids. I wanted to be around the game because I’ve been around football my whole life. I pursued the avenue of trying to coach college ball. But with no experience, that was difficult … I thought it was going to be as an assistant, but (the principal) asked me to be the head coach. I told him to “let me think about it” because to be the head guy, and never having done it before, there comes a lot of responsibility. But I talked it over with my wife, prayed about it, and decided to take the job … They are not expecting me to win every game next year. They know I’m a new coach and as long as I build the program, have a good relationship with the kids, and put God first, then they will be happy.
Q. What would you tell a kid interested in playing football for you at Arlington?
A. It’s a small school. It’s very homey — everybody knows everybody and the education is great. The values are great. They teach Godly principles. It’s a family-oriented school and good atmosphere to learn … Now athletic-wise, I think for football players it will be a great opportunity to learn from a guy like me, with the experiences I’ve had, good and bad, and the challenges I’ve had to overcome, such as working back from not being able to play. I think I will provide the kids with inspiration that they may need if they have doubts. I also have a lot of friends who are going to come by and teach them something … Takeo Spikes, Hines Ward, and my brother Terrence Edwards. With coaches, I learn heavily on Mike Bobo and Kirby Smart. I know these guys personally, so I can get them on the phone, and ask them how to handle certain situations, how to run my offense and defense.
Q. I know you visited Georgia’s practices last week. What are your thoughts on the team?
A. First of all, the facility that they are building is going to be outrageous. I’m kind of jealous I won’t be a student-athlete and able to experience that … But with the coaches, there was a need to change on the defensive side of the ball. They weren’t getting it done the last couple of years, whether it be the coaches fault or the players not playing up to expectations. I think it was a needed change, and the coach from Dallas will be great addition and he will bring the attitude of a pro-style defense. And he will bring the attitude they have to have every week to be successful. On offense, they have the playmakers. They have to establish them a quarterback, but they have a nice trio of running backs that can compliment each other. The have a tight end who is going to be All-Conference, and probably the best wide reciever in the nation. They just have to find someone to get them the ball. I think the O-line has been banged up the last couple of years. They can’t seem to stay healthy. If they stay healthy, then it will be the key to the success of the offense.
Q. What’s your evaluation of Georgia’s running backs?
A. I think Washaun Ealey is outstanding. He still has to find his way but he shows glimpes of that Knowshon Moreno-type of swagger. And Caleb King, being a guy myself who came off injury, it takes a while to overcome it. I know a lot of people expected him to bounce back after one year, but it takes longer for some people. Toward the end of last season, people saw that he was getting stronger and he was having more confidence and running with more authority… The third back (Carlton Thomas) comes in and gives them a change of pace as far as screens and catching passes out of the back, while Branden Smith comes in for reverses and direct snaps. So they have a lot weapons they use, and I’m excited to see how Bobo calls plays this season.
Note: This blog will cover topics and issues that have proven to be most important to our readers. For the AJC’s complete high school coverage, go here to read articles on all sports.