Redshirt freshman running back Lamonte Edwards tried his hand at defense in the season opener against USC. Apparently, the Gophers coaching staff liked what they saw.
MinnesotaâÄôs linebacking corps is banged up, and with the emergence of Donnell Kirkwood as a viable backfield option, head coach Jerry Kill and his staff have decided to give Edwards a shot at linebacker.
âÄúI donâÄôt know if [the move] is going to be permanent âÄ¦ WeâÄôve got some injuries there and as long as this seasonâÄôs going to be, heâÄôs too good to just get 10 or 15 plays,âÄù Kill said.
Kill said Edwards still may play some offense and the move is driven by the fact that the coaches want to get their best players on the field.
Edwards said that heâÄôs excited for the opportunity to lay the smackdown on defense.
âÄúI just like to hit people. I like physicality. Linebacker is like the perfect spot to get a piece of somebody every play,âÄù Edwards said.
âÄúItâÄôs something I played in high school. IâÄôve just got to get used to it, used to the plays and stuff and the way the coaches want me to play.âÄù
Linebackers Aaron Hill and Brendan Beal are both out with injuries. Hill has been hampered by a hamstring injury and Beal is out with a swollen knee, the same knee on which he had knee surgery to repair a torn ACL last year.
Kill said Beal is out indefinitely and he does not expect him back âÄúfor a long time.âÄù
Edwards, a graduate of Woodbury High School, was recruited as an athlete by the Gophers in 2010.
Through three games this season, heâÄôs carried the ball eight times for a mere 11 yards. He recorded his first career touchdown in week two against New Mexico State.
EdwardsâÄô high school coach, Beau LaBore, has called the Gophers coaching staff on several occasions to insist that Edwards play defense, according to Kill.
âÄúMy high school coach has always wanted me to play linebacker only,âÄù Edwards said. âÄúHe was a linebacker, thatâÄôs why.âÄù
Kill said the coaches are trying to maximize the talent on the roster, and moving Edwards will help them do so.
âÄúWe are dealt the cards we have, and we are going to try to utilize all those cards that we can,âÄù Kill said.
Edwards intends to play linebacker against North Dakota State on Saturday.