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Dylan Edwards is an every-down back, says his high school head coach

Jake Schwanitz Avatar
April 2, 2024

Dylan Edwards only needed one game to burst onto the college football scene. After scoring four touchdowns in Colorado’s season-opening upset over TCU last September, the entire country found out what Derby High School head coach Brandon Clark already knew.

Before Edwards set records for the Buffs, he became one of the best players Clark coached in his 20 years at Derby. Coach Clark spoke with me about Edwards’ time at Derby, the type of player he has always been and what to expect out of the dynamic speedster in the future.

When did you first meet Dylan Edwards?

I’ve known Dylan since he was probably in first grade. So I was able to watch him develop from first grade through being a senior in high school and he was always an athlete on the field ever since he was super young. Once he got into the middle school and high school level, he really bought into the weight room. He is 100% no matter what he’s doing in the weight room or on the practice field. So what you saw on game days you’d see those same things all week on the practice field. He wasn’t one of those guys that thought he didn’t have to work or get better. He was one of those guys that had all the talent in the world and outworked everybody also.

How long did it take for Dylan to make an impact at the varsity level?

We had a really good running back his freshman year, and he’d been in our system before so he knew the plays and all that stuff. So obviously at the varsity level, there’s a big jump from middle school to the varsity level, we have a lot more plays and get a lot more complex. By mid-season of his freshman year he was getting playing time, it wasn’t mop-up duty. We didn’t really play any freshmen at running back at the varsity level before but he was getting some meaningful carries and getting in the game. By the time he was a sophomore, it was like coaching a senior. He knew all the plays. He’s not only physically gifted but mentally, he studies the game. He’s hungry to get better, he’s a guy that in practice if he screws up once he’s probably not going to do it again. He’s a guy who’s a perfectionist at everything he does, and by his sophomore year, it was like coaching a senior.

Dylan’s high school stats are outrageous. What was it like designing and executing a game plan with him on your team?

We gave our best playmaker from his sophomore year on the ball and got him as many touches as we could. There’d be times he’d only touch the ball maybe eight to 10 times but he’d score four out of the eight times and we’d have a running clock by halftime so he wouldn’t even play the second half. For the three years that he started on varsity, I would say about a third of the time he wouldn’t be playing the second half just because we were up on the other team so much and he’d scored so many touchdowns.

How often did you guys use Dylan as a receiver at Derby?

He was the best receiver we had also. when we’d go to 7-on-7 in the summer, we would split him out all the time or have him in the slot. He ran really, really good routes. I’m sure he probably runs better routes now being at Colorado, but he’s a natural route runner and his hands are phenomenal. He had no fear going over the middle so if he wasn’t going to be a running back, he could easily play wide receiver.

What was it like for you to watch his Week 1 performance at TCU?

Knowing Dylan for the majority of his life, we knew he was going to be a game-changer. We knew that Colorado and other schools wouldn’t have recruited him if they didn’t believe the same thing. We knew it was just a matter of time, not sure how many people thought he would be a game-changer in week one, but to see him have that success was awesome as a coach. Knowing what type of character he has and how hard he works, everything he does to get to where he’s at. So to watch him flourish that first game was pretty awesome.

What can you share about Dylan’s work ethic and what kind of a person he was off the field?

Football-wise, he was gonna do whatever. If it was watching film, if it was putting extra time in the weight room, do an extra run, he was all in for that. As for Dylan as a human being, I don’t think there was a kid that we’ve had gone through our program and gone to so many junior football games because little kids looked up to him, or invited him to their games or birthday parties. He was always the last one out of the locker room, taking pictures with kids and just being a great role model. There are a lot of service projects that we do, we’re a big service team. That’s one of our core values. He was at almost all of our service projects that we did. Nothing was underneath Dylan. He was always wanting to serve the community and serve the younger population that looked up to him, he was a great role model.

What’s your reaction to people criticizing Dylan’s three-down ability or durability because of his size?

People have that criticism because of his size and there’s not a bigger alpha male at the running back position that I’ve ever seen. He’s not backing down to anybody. He’s durable and never got hurt. I’m not sure where people get that he’s not an every-down back that can’t run through the middle. A lot of his runs for us were straight through the middle in zone, counter and stuff like that. So I really don’t know. He had that, growing up as a high schooler. People thought, “Oh, he’s just a speed guy.” But I guarantee you he’s one of the strongest guys in that weight room. He’s durable, he’s tough, he won’t back down to anybody. You want that back going through the middle where they can’t see him and then all of a sudden he pops through a hole. He’s an Alpha Dog and he’s going to prove to everybody that he’s an every-down back.

Was Dylan always the fastest player on the field in high school?

From his sophomore year going forward he was always the fastest guy on the field. If you know that going in, obviously you’re going to utilize it. But it’s kind of proven already that he’s one of the fastest guys on the field at the college level too. He can utilize his speed outside, he’s got great moves and he has great vision. That’s one thing about running through the middle, his vision was second to none. He picked that up really quickly, by his junior and senior years, he could see the hole before it even developed.

What do you remember about his recruitment and eventual flip to Colorado?

That’s one of the toughest things to do as a kid. He was getting phone calls every day, he’s getting letters every day, he’s getting DM’s. I felt sorry for him. It’s tough, as a kid you’re going to change your mind and you’re going to figure out what’s the best fit for you. Colorado came in a little late, later than most schools did, he had that connection with Coach Prime and formed some quick connections with some of their assistant coaches. It’s ultimately the kid’s decision. It’s not the family’s, it’s not the coaches, it’s not his friends, it’s not social media, it’s his. He felt comfortable there and he went with his heart.

What do you expect out of Dylan’s football future?

This guy’s always going to get better. He’s gonna get better until this football career is over and I don’t see that getting over anytime soon. So he’s a guy that’s gonna live in the weight room in the offseason on the field perfecting his craft. The best has yet to come with Dylan.


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