Livingstone's Edwards fitting in

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

By Laurie D. Willis
As a kid growing up in Kinston, Dorian Edwards had his heart set on playing football at N.C. State.
In high school, Edwards played center for the Kinston Vikings, earning All-Area honors his freshman and sophomore years and All-Conference honors his junior and senior years. During his senior season, he was selected to play in the prestigious East-West All-Star game.
Edwards was good, but at 5-foot-10 and 280 pounds, Division I coaches didn’t consider him big enough to compete at the Division I level. Edwards was offered a chance to play for the Wolfpack – via an academic scholarship.
“I was almost in tears when I realized I was too small to play football for a Division 1 school,” Edwards recalled this week. “To be so close to the opportunity to live out my dream and have something I couldn’t control stop me really hurt.”
Edwards didn’t remain disappointed for long.
Thomas Carnes, a volunteer assistant football coach at Kinston, sent game film of Edwards to Livingstone College. Blue Bear coaches were impressed enough to schedule a visit for Edwards to come to Salisbury, and the rest is history.
Edwards, a defensive tackle, has been a member of the Livingstone College football team for four years. He’ll play his last home game inside Alumni Memorial Stadium on Saturday when the Blue Bears host the Shaw University Bears at 1 p.m.
“It’s monumental to be able to say that I played four years of collegiate football,” Edwards said. “Everybody doesn’t get the opportunity to play college football. I’m sad because I know it’s coming to an end … but I’m overjoyed at the opportunity to have played in front of those individuals who had a vested interest in my life for the past four years.”
Edwards, 21, has been a starter during the three years Elvin James has been Livingstone’s head football coach. James describes him as relentless.
During the fourth week of the season, when Livingstone beat Lincoln 48-44, Edwards was named CIAA Defensive Lineman Player of the Week. Edwards recovered a fumble and ran 22 yards during the contest.
“Dorian is a young man who makes things happen,” James said. “He doesn’t wait for things to happen; he makes things happen. He’s also a hard worker and is totally dedicated to the program and everything he does. He always gives 100 percent and goes all out. And the really good thing about Dorian is he isn’t just an outstanding athlete. He’s also a gentleman and a scholar.”
Edwards has a 3.75 GPA at Livingstone, where he’s the Student Government Association president. He’s the epitome of a student-athlete.
“Being SGA president is demanding, as is being a starter on the football team,” said Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr.
“Most students would have a hard time balancing either role with their academics, but Dorian Edwards manages to do all three well. N.C. State University’s loss was certainly Livingstone College’s gain.”
Carnes isn’t surprised Edwards is doing so well at Livingstone – on the field or off. The two have remained in touch since Edwards graduated four years ago, and he tries to make it to at least one Blue Bears game a year to see his former athlete play.
“Dorian played center for me on the offensive line and was always encouraging to the other kids,” Carnes said. “It wasn’t just a game to us. It was play to win, and Dorian played with integrity. He also participated in church camps, and he worked. He’d leave practice and go straight to work at Kmart. He’s just an outstanding young man, a fantastic kid. He’s the kind of kid that as a parent you want your daughter to bring home.”
Carnes played football at East Carolina after transferring from Miami. His son, Hunter, played football at Catawba. Carnes has been around the game for a long time and knows talent when he sees it.
“I just wish Dorian would have been three or four inches taller because he could have played anywhere in the country,” Carnes said. “I really believe that.”
Edwards, the son of Rowena Jones and Cottrell Edwards, has long since gotten over not being able to play for N.C. State or any Division I school. He’s simply grateful for the experience he’s had at Livingstone.
Last week when Livingstone celebrated its homecoming, Edwards was busier than usual juggling football duties and SGA responsibilities. For example, on Saturday morning he represented student government in the parade before suiting up for the game that afternoon, which Livingstone lost 32-27.
“It’s been fun playing football for four years at Livingstone,” Edwards said. “It’s been a great experience and a wonderful opportunity… I hope that by being in a position of leadership here on campus and also involved in athletics I’ve demonstrated you can be successful in both arenas simultaneously. It’s all about how far you want to push yourself.”