David Edwards’ pals on the University of Wisconsin football team’s offensive line have come up with a nickname for the sophomore right tackle.
Edwards says it stems from his attire on game days — black suit, white shirt, hair slicked to the side — but there’s more to it than that.
“He’s very refined,” junior right guard Beau Benzschawel said. “We call him that because he’s probably going to be the President one day. That’s just how he acts.”
Except for meal time. There’s nothing refined about the way Edwards methodically devours the food on his plate, according to junior left tackle Michael Deiter.
“We used to go to Red Robin, and he would get two burgers and eat like 10 racks of French fries,” Deiter said. “Those were his days where he was really trying to put on some pounds.”
Edwards arrived at UW in 2015 as a 240-pound tight end. The sophomore right tackle is now listed at 315 pounds, though the 6-foot-7 Edwards said this week it’s been hard to maintain that weight throughout camp and he’s “down” to 310.
Either way, it’s been interesting for Edwards’ teammates to watch him transform his body.
“I think if you put a picture up of when he first came in to now,” Benzschawel said, “it’d be pretty crazy.”
Benzschawel and others teased Edwards from the moment he arrived on campus that he was destined to end up on the line. UW coach Paul Chryst even got into the act in Edwards’ first training camp two years ago.
“If I dropped the ball, he threatened to put knee braces in my locker,” Edwards said. “I kind of knew coming into it that would be the end game, it was just a matter of time.”
A simple change to his eating habits caused Edwards to gain about 30 pounds his first year on campus.
“When I came in, I didn’t eat breakfast at all. I only ate two meals a day,” he said. “Once I started eating breakfast, I naturally started gaining more weight. Once I got switched to tackle, I was about 275 and I got to 285 by the end of summer. That process was really eating three full meals a day and then the protein shakes.”
The next 30 pounds weren’t quite as easy. In addition to his three meals and protein shakes, Edwards typically ends his day with a sandwich or a couple burritos.
“You’re not hungry,” Edwards said, “but you know you have to do it.”
It’s all worth it for Edwards, who looks and feels more like a lineman than he did a year ago.
Back then, Edwards figured he had some time to grow as he was learning a new position. An injury to Jake Maxwell forced Edwards into the lineup and he ended up starting seven games at right tackle.
“The thing that’s remarkable to me is, where he’s at right now compared to where he was one year ago, when you were like, ‘Geez, there might be a chance if a number of guys go down, you might need him to help you out and play,’ ” said UW offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, who coaches the offensive line. “He went from that to starting in (seven) games or so. I would say that’s surprising to me. I like where he’s at, and I like that approach.”
Naturally, there were some growing pains for Edwards in 2016. When he reviewed his play from last season, Edwards came up with three areas where he needed to make strides.
One is becoming better in one-on-one situations is pass protection. “I have to be confident and have the ability to lock that guy down,” he said.
Another is being able to physically move defenders. Those extra 30 pounds should help in that regard.
Edwards, who played quarterback in high school, admits he relied on his athleticism to help him survive last season. Adding more power to his game should only help Edwards improve as a run blocker.
“I think what will help me,” Edwards said, “is the extra weight and strength I’ve gained since that time.”
Finally, Edwards wants to become better at communicating with the players next to him, whether it’s Benzschawel on the left or a tight end on the right.
Edwards spent the spring at left tackle, where the UW coaching staff was eyeing him as a potential replacement for Ryan Ramczyk. But those plans changed during the offseason: Deiter will start at left tackle, with Edwards back to right tackle and rising redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz taking over for Deiter at center.
“I’m willing to do whatever,” Edwards said. “It’s not really a big deal.”