Mike Edwards is ready to prove he belongs at the University of Tennessee.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound cornerback from Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio, will begin summer classes and workouts at UT today.
Edwards said his high school success won’t mean anything when he begins his UT career.
“I haven’t done anything yet,” he said. “I feel like me coming down there, I’m just another person that’s trying to succeed in football. I have to work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life.”
Edwards knows he’ll have to work hard to earn playing time in UT’s crowded defensive backfield.
He is one of five defensive backs signed in 2009, joining Eric Gordon, Janzen Jackson, Darren Myles and Nyshier Oliver.
Marsalis Teague, another 2009 signee, could see time at defensive back if UT’s staff decides he’s better suited to play defense than offense.
Edwards said the competition among the incoming defensive backs should make everyone better.
“It’s always great to have great defensive backs around you because sometimes you have to be the best athletes on the field,” he said. “It’s just pieces that we have to put together, but I believe it’s going to be a great group of defensive backs.”
Edwards said he began building relationships with his fellow signees after he signed with UT in February.
Edwards said he and his teammates are determined to play well for coach Lane Kiffin. who has spoken confidently about rebuilding the Vols since arriving in December.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do as players, is back up our coach in any situation,” Edwards said. “I believe with him deciding to pick us to come to his school that he will back us up in any situation.
“It’s all up to the players and the coaching staff to make this program work.”
Edwards comes from a program that has worked as well as any in the country.
Glenville has produced a number of NFL players, including wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (Miami), safety Donte Whitner (Buffalo) and former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith (Baltimore).
Edwards said he believes his experience at Glenville has prepared him to play at the college level.
“Glenville’s program is on the level of a college program,” he said. “I’m going to be advanced in some areas, but there are going to be some areas I’ll definitely need some work on and definitely need to improve on.
“I’m ready to know what I’ve got to get better in and what I have to work on.”
Edwards hopes his work will result in championships for UT.
He said he believes that will happen if his teammates have the same mindset.
“I just want people that are on the same focus as I am and that’s winning a national championship down there in Knoxville,” Edwards said.