CEDAR RAPIDS – Other players might get more attention, but Jarred Edmonds certainly is a player to watch.
The Cedar Rapids Prairie wide receiver has shined although the spotlight hasn’t been cast in his direction often.
Edmonds leads Class 4A and is second in the entire state in receiving yards, tallying 904 yards, averaging an impressive 27.4 yards a catch this season for the Hawks. He will attempt to add to those numbers Thursday when Prairie faces Cedar Rapids Washington (2-5) at Kingston Stadium live on KCRG 9.2, beginning at 7 p.m.
Edmonds entered the season, trying to improve on last year’s production. He has pulled away from the 529 yards on 26 receptions in 2011.
“It’s turned out better than I thought it would,” Edmonds said. “I couldn’t ask for a better year.”
He has been a key component to the Hawks 4-3 mark, surpassing the two wins from last season. Edmonds has scored 13 touchdowns. He doesn’t reap as much praise from outsiders as teammates Jace Hanna, who plays the high-profile position of quarterback, and Demetrius Harper, whose flair and athleticism draw notice, but he doesn’t care.
“I feel like that sometimes but it doesn’t bother me,” Edmonds said. “They’re all great players.”
Edmonds doesn’t crave the attention. Second-year Prairie head coach Mike Morrissey recalled his interactions with Edmonds when he took over the program last year. He blossomed into a natural leader for Prairie, spurring on teammates with high-fives and pats on the back in the huddle between plays.
“He didn’t say a word in the first four weeks,” Morrissey said with a laugh. “Getting to know him, you learn what a remarkable kid he is.”
Morrissey has seen it develop on the field as well. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has at least one touchdown in the first seven games, scoring three in the opener against Cedar Rapids Jefferson and in the Hawks’ 49-27 win over Linn-Mar last week.
Many of the scores this season have been of the long variety, including touchdown catches of 94, 80, 76, 69 and 62 yards. Edmonds has surpassed the 100-yard mark in all but two games.
Edmonds, clocked at a 4.58-second 40-yard dash, attributes the success to hard work in the offseason, listening and executing what the coaches teach and running the best routes possible. His long and close relationship with Hanna contributes to those big gains.
“He knows where to put the ball,” Edmonds said of Hanna. “He throws a great ball. It helps to get extra yards.”
Morrissey witnessed each of those touchdowns this year, including a 69-yard touchdown against Cedar Rapids Kennedy, which displayed his ability to catch a short pass, make people miss and bolt downfield. Morrissey said Edmonds caught a 2-yard slant, made multiple cuts to elude Cougar tacklers and raced for the endzone.
“Watching guys missing, the spin move was incredible and watching him pull away,” Morrissey said. “That stood out as an example of this kid is special.”
The biggest performance came in one of the Hawks’ biggest games. Edmonds posted 227 receiving yards against fifth-ranked Cedar Falls.
“It was the best game of my career,” Edmonds said. “It was a tough loss, but I had a lot of fun.”
His impact extends beyond reeling in passes from Hanna. The free safety/cornerback is fourth on the team in tackles with an interception and five pass break-ups, and averages 37.3 yards per punt. Edmonds also returns punts and kicks and is the holder for extra-point attempts.
“He does everything,” Morrissey said. “He never comes off the field and never complains.”
Edmonds has garnered attention from NCAA Division I programs. He has visited University of Iowa and Iowa State University for games. Edmonds plans to visit UI for an official visit and is considering the University of Northern Iowa. Morrissey said his father, Ed, a Hall of Fame football coach at Pleasant Valley who also coached at Upper Iowa University. He compared Edmonds to Chris Anthony, saying he was more athletic than the former Iowa State wide receiver who played in the Arena Football League with New York Dragons.
“He’s got great hands,” Morrissey said. “He’s smooth with everything he does.
“He’s going to be special for somebody (in college),” Morrissey said. “They have to give him that opportunity.”