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August 30, 2011

Five-Star Diary with Mario Edwards Jr.

As told to Michael Langston

Each week throughout the football season, five-star defensive end Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas) will give Warchant.com an inside look at his weekly game preparation, thoughts on Florida State and more. He is currently ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the nation by Rivals.com and his Ryan Denton team is currently ranked No 82 on RivalsHigh Top 100.

Editor's note: Today's opening edition of Edwards' diary will be free, but future entries will be premium and will require a subscribtion to Warchant.com.


Week 1: Prep season begins

Our first game of the season was last Saturday. It was against Sulphur Springs (Texas) and televised on ESPN. We won 25-9. I knew it was going to be a big game and all eyes were going to be on me, because I am the No. 1 recruit in the nation. So there was a little pressure, but it didn't affect me too much. I just tried to prepare myself for the game and looked at it as just a normal game. The only difference was that everyone in the world can see me. So I just did what I was supposed to do and made plays. My dad's (former FSU standout Mario Edwards Sr.) advice to me was just 'play your game'. He told me just go out there and 'do your job'. And that's what I did. I finished with two sacks and six tackles.

School is going well so far. I have great teachers and I have a schedule where I have a few days of late arrival and early release. I'm enjoying it so far. The most difficult class I have is probably AP Government. It goes a lot quicker than regular classes, but I have good teachers that break it down for you. It's not really hard if you pay attention.

Originally I had thought about enrolling early at FSU, but the more I thought about it, I just want to stick around here and enjoy the rest of my senior year. But most of all, spend as much time I can with my dad before I leave. It's not something that was a sudden decision, I've had it in the back of my mind. I just want to make the best decision for me and my family.

My family is important to me. My dad is my dad, but he is more like a big brother to me. We do everything together. We work out together, we eat breakfast together, go to school together, we watch film together. He shows me what I did wrong, how I can correct it, I go to bed, and then we do it all over again.

It's going to be exciting for me to go to the same school my dad did and wear his number. It's an honor. He was a beast at FSU at corner. It is big shoes to fill, but I like a challenge and I am so honored to wear his number. I just can't wait to get to FSU. I feel the defense fits me perfectly. I'll do whatever they want me to do. It's just me, it's how I play in general. If they want me to chase the ball, put pressure on the quarterback that's what I do now. So it's not like I'm being asked to do anything extra, or taking me out of something I'm not used to doing. But I'll do whatever is asked of me.

I'll probably be able to watch the FSU's home opener this weekend (on television) because we play on Friday. My main goal while I'm watching the game is looking at the defense. I'll watch how the defense reacts. When things aren't going their way, I'll be looking how they play, how they adjust, how they put pressure on the quarterback. I'll be thinking about what I would do if I was in the game in that particular situation. I'll also be looking at technique. As far as my next visit, I know I'll be going to the Oklahoma game (on Sept. 17). I'll also probably go to the Miami game (Nov. 12) as well. I'm excited to get back to FSU. Whenever I am at Florida State, I feel at home. It feels like family, and not because everyone knows my dad. It just feels like a family away from home.

I've been keeping in touch with some of FSU's commitments and targets. I talk with Justin Shanks and Eddie Goldman. I talked to Justin right before his game last week and wished him luck. We're excited to get up there and play. Eddie and I usually talk about competition and how good we could be if we played together. Based on my conversations with him, FSU is going to get him. But we'll see where he goes. It's his decision. A lot of us (Justin, Eddie, Dante Fowler Jr.), we all talk about playing together because we are competitive. We like challenges and we all do our jobs, we all play our part. If you do your job, you'll make your fair share of plays.

I still have schools that call me even though I'm committed. Sometimes I don't even respond, or if I do respond, I tell them that I'm focused on Florida State.

Our game this week is at Carrolton Newman Smith. The first game was really about getting the rust off and getting back in the swing of things. This week, I'm watching film and doing everything I can to prepare. When I watch film, I'll watch it at school, but when I get home, I watch it at least twice. So I'll watch it at least three times a week. I'm not sure how long it is, but the film will have something like 20 passing plays, 20 screen plays, 20 running plays, etc. I'm usually studying the guy that I'll be blocking. I focus on the little things of my opponent. Like if he wiggles his finger before he comes off the ball, takes a step or things like that. I focus on things that I see, before the play happens. Last week's team was a scrambling quarterback, this team likes to run. So when we stop the run, they'll have to opt for the pass. So I'll be anticipating what will happen.

I try to help some of the younger guys during practice and camps. I don't see myself as a five-star player. I'm no different from anyone else. I look at it as treating someone like how you want to be treated. If someone was better than me, I would want them to help me out so I can be better. It's how I was raised, how I was brought up.

An area I can improve on is chase more and get in better shape. I am in shape as far as conditioning, but the only way you can get in 'football shape' is actually getting out there and playing. Scrimmaging is fine, but the only way to get in football shape is to actually go out there and play. I'm putting in my miles in the morning, doing well in practice, so I'll be ready for Friday. In last week's game, it was around 100 degrees, and the first two or three series I felt a little fatigued. But after that, I got my second wind and felt good.

Note: In case you aren't familiar with his father, Mario Sr., here is a short bio on him during his playing days as a Seminole.





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