Mario Edwards Jr. following father's steps, may lead to Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- When Mario Edwards Jr. showed up at Valley Ranch last week for an official draft visit with the Dallas Cowboys, he wasn’t in awe of the place.

“I went a few times when I was younger,” Edwards said. “I got a chance to go on the field. I met Darren Woodson, Emmitt Smith, things like that.”

Mario Sr. was a cornerback for the Cowboys from 2000-03 and a sixth-round pick in 2000. He started every game in ’03 when the Cowboys surprisingly made the playoffs in Bill Parcells’ first year and finished first in the league in defense.

Mario Jr. was one of the most-sought after recruits in the nation when he played at Denton Ryan High School. He followed his father’s footsteps to Florida State. The pre-draft visit says the Cowboys have interest in picking him so perhaps he could follow his father once again.

“That would be nice,” Edwards said. “That would be going back home to where I grew up in high school. It would be nice, but I don’t care where I go. I just want to go play.”

While the father was a cornerback, the son is a hulking defensive end at 6-3, 275 pounds. He was too big during his junior year, weighing 300 pounds. He did not make the same kind of impact he had as a sophomore, including a six-tackle (three for loss) performance in the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn.

After the season ended, he spoke with his dad, changed his diet and changed his body.

“I watched film from my sophomore year, and I watched film from my junior year at the beginning of the season, and I saw a totally different player,” Edwards said. “I wasn’t as explosive, I wasn’t fast, quick-twitch, anything like that. We sat down and literally said, that this isn’t you. So I went and made a change. Changing it by not eating past certain times, not eating fried foods. Whatever it took to get my trimmed to get me back to the athlete I was.”

Edwards can play almost anywhere along the defensive front. At Florida State, he even worked some as a stand-up outside linebacker. For the Cowboys, he could fit as a left defensive end or even a three-technique, and they have a pressing need along the defensive line.

“Just growing up, my dad would always say, ‘Mario, you have the talent. You have the type of physical sets that you can be a three-year-and-done guy,’” he said. “I bought into it. I listened to him. I listened to pretty much 95 percent of everything my dad says. He’s never steered my wrong so if he told me I was able to do it, him going to the college level and going to the NFL level and seeing all types of talent, if he could sit there and tell me at a young age that I had what it took, I trusted him.”