Bryan Edwards was a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school, and there were a lot of expectations for him as a freshman for South Carolina last season. Despite fighting through a knee injury suffered in high school, Edwards was still able to put together an impressive first campaign in the Garnet and Black.
Edwards was third on the team with 44 receptions for 590 yards. His four receiving touchdowns tied for the team lead. His position coach, Bryan McClendon, knew how talented Edwards was coming out of Conway and last year's performance was a good building block for the future.
"Bryan has a bunch of ability," McClendon said. "Not many people his size are able to move and have the feet and hips that he's able to have. With all that being said, we still have a long way to go. We still have steps that we need to take."
Edwards was one of the best freshmen receivers in the SEC as his 49.2 receiving yards per game ranked second in the league among freshmen. Pretty impressive for a player who wasn't fully healthy at any point last year.
In addition to the knee injury, Edwards underwent surgery for a sports hernia over the offseason. His recovery went well, but he will be limited for parts of spring practice. The injury started during the Florida game, but Edwards fought through it. He started all 12 games he played in, missing only the Texas A&M game despite the various injuries.
That's just the kind of player he is.
"I'm the type of guy who always wants to be on the field," Edwards said. "Sitting out a game was something I really didn't want to do."
So how productive can Edwards be when he's healthy?
"I feel like my ceiling is very high," Edwards said. "Just have to keep working hard and keep my head down and keep trying."
Even with the setbacks, Edwards showed flashes of being a dominant receiver and forms a great one-two punch with Deebo Samuel.
When Jake Bentley took over as starting quarterback midway through the season, he developed good chemistry with Edwards. That chemistry is important for a receiver and quarterback, and the sophomore duo should be a force to be reckoned with next season.
"I'm extremely excited," Edwards said. "We have the quarterback situation hashed out and we're building chemistry. I'm extremely excited for next year."
Edwards was one of several freshmen that got an ample amount of experience last season. The Gamecocks were one of the youngest teams in the country, and there were obviously some growing pains as South Carolina finished with a 6-7 record.
Still, that was a vast improvement upon a three-win season the year prior, and those young players will be much more comfortable in year No. 2 of the Will Muschamp era.
"We all got a full season of experience under our belt, and we know what to expect," Edwards said. "Guys are starting to understand how the offense works."
**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Jenny Dilworth**