Elite Class Senior Spotlight: Raphael Edwards Jr., TE, Northwest Oklahoma State University
Posted by: Jeremiah Wait @mrfootballwait, December 21, 2019
Raphael Edwards Jr. is the next basketball turned football player at tight end (TE) that everyone needs to keep an eye out for in the upcoming draft and at the CGS (College Gridiron Showcase). Like many other basketball players who turned into TE’s, Edwards possesses great ability to go up and catch the football at its highest point, as well as being able to move very well on the football field. He’s a multi-dimensional player who is continuing to improve his game greatly, and is just starting to figure out his abilities on the field as a player.
College: Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Watch Raphael Edwards Jr.’s highlights
-Where are you from?
-Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
- Through my life, the biggest influence has definitely been my parents. My mother has been by herself for a while now because my parents separated at a really young age. However, she always tried to give us the best that she could, I wouldn’t be where I’m at in life without her sacrifices and support. My dads work ethic, drive, and understanding of what it takes to be great has always helped drive me in pursuing my dreams. No matter what I’ve attempted, I’ve always had my dad’s support, especially now with my pursuit of trying to play football professionally.
-What are you looking to gain from the CGS (College Gridiron Showcase)?
- From the CGS, I’m looking to gain an opportunity to help increase my notoriety, since the showcase has some of the best talent coming in. Having the opportunity to go up against different competition and showcase my skill is something that I’m really looking forward to. I’m excited to show everyone at the event how much I’ve improved in every facet of my game.
-What has been the biggest adversity you’ve faced in your life, and how did you feel with it?
- Honestly, probably making the decision from playing basketball to football. This was one of the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make, because I really had to think about my future and not second guess my decision. It was tough not to second guess my decision, because I was making a life changing decision, and had no idea what was going to happen. I look at myself as an all around athlete and competitor, who sticks with what I put my mind to. Making the transition from basketball to football was a lot easier with the mindset of staying positive and believing in myself.
-What is one weakness that you have as a person that you need to improve upon?
- A weakness that I have as a person is all around, I’m really hard on myself in anything that I do. I expect a lot of myself, even though I know that I need to trust the process and know that everything isn’t going to happen overnight. I want to be great now, and it’s been frustrating not being able to do certain things right away when I transitioned to playing football. Accepting the process and going with it is something that I’ve embodied, and I’m excited to showcase my abilities in front of scouts and other players at the CGS.
– What are you looking to gain/learn from playing professional football?
- By having the opportunity to hopefully play professional football, I’m trying to gain everything from football. I mean, it’s a child’s game that so many people enjoy playing, watching, or just being around. I love playing the game, and I want to be doing something that I love to do. Everyone wants to have a career that they love, so hopefully, I will have the opportunity to say that I’m actually doing my dream job of playing professional football. To me, football isn’t really a job, as I love the process of becoming a better football player and have dedicated my life towards doing so.
–Why do you love football?
- I love football because besides loving to play the game, I love the physicality, scoring touchdowns, and just being able to pancake someone. Basketball has really helped me to translate my ability of “getting rebounds” to football when I’m going for jump balls, and I love being able to go over the top of someone for a TD or a big catch.
-Who was the toughest player you played against in college and why?
- The toughest player I’ve had to go up against in college was T.J. Winslow from Harding University. He won the defensive player of the year in my conference my junior year, and was an absolute beast. When I was fine tuning my blocking during my junior year especially, he was able to kind of have his way with me, because he was so good with his hands. After the game against them, I knew after that game, I had to focus on my hand placement and being able to block if I was going to be able to reach my dreams of playing professionally.
-Describe your college football playing career?
- My college football playing career could be described as very sporadic. I left Tyler University after my freshman season, and my transcripts didn’t come over until week 7 of my sophomore year. I wasn’t able to play until week 9, so basically, I really only played two years of college football. Last year was really my first time where I was able to play a full season of football games. I played all 11 games, but had to really get acclimated to the speed of the game and the pace, because it was a lot different than playing basketball. This year provided me with an opportunity to really define my play and prove to everyone that I was a different player, and I think it definitely showed.
-When was a situation where you faced a bunch of adversity as a team, and how did you deal with it?
- During my time at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, as a team, we went through a lot of different quarterbacks (QB’s). It was tough having to go through so many different QB’s and having them all try to fit into our offense. As a team, we could’ve folded, but we all rallied around whoever was at QB and trusted our coaches in their decision. Executing the game plan was difficult at times with different QB’s, but we knew that in order for us to be successful, we had to trust everything.
-What separates yourself from other players at your position?
- I think that I’m able to separate myself from other players because I’m deceptively fast. For being as big as I am, I think it’s a good thing that speed is a way to describe me as a player, because it allows me to compete at the highest level. I have good hops from playing basketball and am super athletic. Lastly, I like blocking and I want to be the best overall TE that I can be!
-What is your biggest strength?
- My biggest strength is the ability to catch the football and run after the catch. I enjoy being able to make people miss or break a tackle.
-What do you think needs to be improved the most with your game?
- I think that with my game, everything about my craft as a player needs to be improved. I’m currently working with my WR coach from college and learning technical things that will allow me to make that next jump and hopefully, succeed at the next level. I also know that I haven’t been blocking for as long as most TE’s, so I need to continue working on my technique and making sure that I’m cleaner with my hands, speed, and being patient with my punches. A lot of blocking is all about hand placement, so I just need to continue perfecting my craft and make sure that I’m putting myself in the best position to help my team.
-What was the most memorable play of your collegiate career?
- The most memorable play of my collegiate career was scoring a TD last season in overtime against Southern Nazarene University. I was able to tie the game back up, and I scored my TD when I ran over three players. Even though we lost the game, it was a super fun play to be a part of, and it definitely brought the momentum back on our side
-What is your definition of success?
- My definition of success is being able to look at yourself in the mirro and knowing that you gave everything that you have. You should also be able to tell yourself that you’re comfortable in the sport that you’re in.
-What is something interesting about yourself that many people don’t know about?
- Something that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I lived in China for three months with my dad when I was younger, as I attended a NIKE basketball camp. The camp and living in China was a crazy, fun experience. It was really hot, and the culture was so awesome to experience. Seeing different part of the world and seeing how other cultures think and live was something that I will never forget. I’m very appreciative of what I have, and that experience only opened my eyes more to how fortunate I am.
-If it was between yourself and another player for a final roster spot on an NFL team or any other professional football team, what would you say to separate yourself?
- I would tell that team that I will do anything that they need. I will play wherever they need me to play and be that player that everyone can count on. I like to look at myself as an all around guy, so if they need me to play another position or do something else, I’m willing to learn whatever that is to help the team!
-What keeps you motivated to play football?
- I stay motivated to play football because I always stay true to myself and trust that everything that I’m doing will help me succeed and reach my dreams. I want to be great, and I won’t stop until I’m able to achieve this.
-How would teammates and coaches describe you?
- As a person, I think that I would be described as a very laid back, but social person who enjoys interacting with people, but also taking time for himself. I like to think that I’m a pretty funny person and I enjoy telling jokes or quoting movie lines. As a football player, I think they’d describe me as exciting, because I’m always trying to affect the game in whatever way that I can, whether that’s through a great catch, block, or being that energy guy during the game.
-What are three things you feel that you need in order to be successful in football?
- The first thing that I feel that you need in order to be successful in football is being able to be coachable, because you have to be able to sometimes put aside how you feel about something, and trust that what the coach is doing is the right thing. The second thing is having a very strong work ethic, because everyone wants your spot, and even if you’re blessed enough to make it playing professionally, you have to remember that there is a ton of other guys who are vying for your position. You can’t ever become complacent. Lastly, I think that you have to have a mixture of confidence and fun. You have to have fun with the game and stay confident in your abilities, because you have to believe that all of your work that you’ve put in will showcase for you.
-What do you like to do for fun?
- If I’m not training for football or doing anything football related, I love to play video games. I also am a huge movie guy and love every type of movie. My friends like to give me a lot of crap, but I have a favorite movie for every type of genre. I’m also an avid outdoor person, as I enjoy being active.
-What’s your favorite type of music?
- I’m a HUGE Drake guy and love all of his songs. I’ve especially enjoyed his new album called Scorpion.
-If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
- Honestly, I’d probably say ancient Egypt. I’m a huge history buff, and I think it would be really cool to see the history of Egypt and where the Pharaohs lived and what life was like in ancient Egypt. It would also be cool being able to see the ancient ruins.
*Being able to interview Raphael was an awesome experience for me. It was really cool being able to hear his story and the reasons why he decided to switch from playing basketball to football. To believe in yourself enough to make that switch is truly inspiring, especially when you don’t really have any experience playing. By being invited to the CGS, I think that this proves that Raphael has taken the most of his opportunities and ran with them. He’s able to run away from defenders with his deceptive speed, and he’s a very smooth route runner whose able to create separation. His basketball skills are very visible when he gets into situations when he has a defender around him, because he excels at catching the football in congested areas. Keep an eye out for him in this years upcoming 2020 NFL draft and at the CGS in Fort Worth, TX, because as he’s shown, he’s not afraid to do whatever it takes to give himself an opportunity to be successful. As Raphael put it, “I stick with what I put my mind to, and once I do something, I’m going to do whatever I can to be successful at it.”