Rookie Chase Edmonds plans to pay sister's $80K in student loans

Cardinals fourth-round pick Chase Edmonds plans to pay off his sister's debt and then they both plan to save some money by moving in with their mom. Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Somewhere buried in one of his mom's moving boxes in her Pennsylvania home, ready to be shipped to Arizona, sits one of Chase Edmonds' school assignments from 12 years ago.

Moms like to keep everything their children write, but this was different. Edmonds, then 10, made two statements on that piece of paper: First, he wanted to make it to the NFL and, second, he wanted to pay off his sister's student loans.

He accomplished the first when the Arizona Cardinals took him in the fourth round.

The second will be coming soon.

To this day, Chase's mom, Alison Edmonds, is impressed that her son came up with the idea to repay his sister's loans on his own. She doesn't know where exactly the notion came from, but she thinks conversations around the dinner table about his sister, Morgan Howell, looking at colleges planted the seed. Morgan was 16 at the time. Chase was 10. And he never forgot about it.

Fast-forward to Chase's junior year at Fordham University, where he was playing running back on a full scholarship, two years ago. He still hadn't forgotten about paying off Morgan's debt. Out of the blue one day, Chase asked his mom how much Morgan had in student loans. Alison didn't sugarcoat it: $80,000.

Morgan had gone to NC State for undergrad and then to Arizona State to get her master's in counseling. She's now living in Chandler, Arizona -- about 10 minutes from the Cardinals' practice facility -- and is a therapist working with teens on mental health, anxiety, depression and eating disorders, among other issues. Every month, Morgan slowly pays back those loans with an installment between $360 and $380. The exact number is lost somewhere in auto pay.

Chase couldn't believe his ears.

"When you're on full scholarship you don't realize these bills," he told ESPN. "These things add up. When my mom told me Morgan's debt at the time, I said, 'Wow. If I ever can make it to the NFL that's something that I would love to do, just to surprise her and pay that off for her so she can really live free and do whatever she wants with her money.'"

Two years later, Alison and Morgan were sitting in the lower bowl of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the NFL draft when Chase texted his sister with two words: "Be ready."

When Chase's name was called by the Cardinals with the 34th pick of the fourth round, Alison and Morgan had their phones ready to record. Then they jumped, then they screamed, then they celebrated.

Edmonds, who stands 5-foot-9, ran for almost 6,000 yards and 67 touchdowns in four seasons at Fordham, while accounting for another 900 yards and seven touchdowns as a receiver. His size, his school and his history of lingering ankle and hamstring injuries caused him to fall to the Cardinals.

About two weeks after the draft, Chase was in Tempe sitting behind a microphone for his first news conference. He was asked what he planned to do with his first check or his signing bonus. He couldn't keep his surprise a secret any longer.

"My sister has some student debt so I really want to pay that off for her," he said in front of recorders and cameras.

On May 12, Chase signed a four-year contract worth $3.36 million that included a signing bonus worth $452,356, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Morgan, who was in the dark about Chase's plan, received about 10 text messages with screen shots of the stories about Chase wanting to pay her loans.

He still hasn't officially told her. But when he does, he hopes she doesn't cry. Morgan said she's more of a jumper than a crier when good things happen, but she knows if she starts crying, then Chase will cry, too.

Morgan wasn't all that surprised, though. Chase, she said, is naturally giving and has been his entire life. She was, however, surprised that her mom told him the amount she owed.

"I didn't realize my student loans were on his radar," Morgan said. "It's not something I talk about. It's not something I complain about. It's just a reality of going to grad school, unfortunately. I wasn't surprised, but I was just like ... I guess I was surprised."

To Chase, paying off Morgan's loans is a small way of showing how much he cares about his big sister.

"I don't need a reaction from Morgan," Chase said. "It's a token of me telling her how much I love her, how much I appreciate everything that she's done in my 22 years of life.

"I love my big sister. That's just the least I can do for her."

He's been spending every weekend at her place, away from the hotel the team puts rookies up in during the offseason. It's become his "home away from home," Chase said, and helps him take his mind off football for a couple of days. He chips in around the house, randomly buying groceries, and surprises his sister by filling up her car with gas.

And he's been a pretty flexible roommate. He has asked if she wants to watch a Disney movie -- even though he didn't have any interest in watching. But there's a trade-off. He made her watch Game 7 of both the NBA Eastern and Western Conference finals -- which she didn't have any interest in.

Morgan is enjoying the quality time with her brother, but it's still weird to her that he's in the NFL, even though she prayed on it for years.

She was out to lunch with a few friends right after Chase got drafted and they were talking about her brother. A man at the table next to her interrupted them to ask if they were talking about Chase.

"It blew my mind," Morgan said. "I was like, 'OK, now I can't talk about my brother in public because people are going to walk up to me asking questions and that's strange.'"

And next week, they're about to be permanent roommates again.

Alison, a speech pathologist, is moving from Pennsylvania to Arizona to be near her two children on June 12. Morgan will fly back east and the two will take a weeklong road trip across America.

When they get to Arizona, both Chase and Morgan will move into Alison's four-bedroom house.

"I'm a very frugal person and I can't see why we need to be paying three mortgages or three rents. I can't understand that. We get along pretty well and if the house is big enough, we won't trip over each other so that is good."

Chase won't have to buy Uber Eats anymore. Mom will be the primary cook, making her specialties -- breakfast casserole and spaghetti. Morgan, who doesn't eat meat, can chip in with vegetables.

Then there's the laundry. Chase can't wait to have his mom do it for him again. And she doesn't mind a bit.

"It'll just go back to, 'Mom's here now and just throw your stuff in a laundry basket,'" Alison said.

It'll be just like the old days. And Chase never thought twice about moving back in with his mom.

"I'm cheap," he said. "I'm not spending a dime."