TALLAHASSEE — Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. is tired of answering questions about his weight.
Since he was a senior in high school, Edwards has battled to keep off the pounds and reporters have had no problem grilling him about his eating habits or whether he was capable of playing defensive end in college because of his size.
Edwards — who is listed at 6-foot-3, 294 pounds on FSU's official roster, although he's closer to 300 pounds — feels the weight narrative has been exhausted.
"I feel like if my coaches are pleased with it, and they want me anywhere from 290, 295 being a good weight, I'm fine with it," Edwards said. "Most people don't understand that in the national championship game I was 297, 298 and it was, in my opinion, my best game of the year."
Edwards had six tackles, including three for a loss, during FSU's 34-31 win against Auburn in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. The Seminoles, after a sluggish start, stunted Auburn's dynamic run game, holding the top rushing attack in the country to 232 yards, nearly 100 yards below its season average.
The burly end was a large reason FSU thrived, setting the edge against outside runs with his immense power. His signature play in the contest came in the third quarter when he sacked quarterback Nick Marshall. Using a swim move, Edwards immediately burst into the backfield and got his left hand on Marshall, who changed direction to escape the tackle. Edwards stayed with the play and chased down Marshall as he let go of the ball, forcing an intentional-grounding penalty.
In one play, everything Edwards has to offer was exemplified: Brute strength, quickness, sound technique and a high football I.Q.
"That guy is as athletic and as dominant as any of the ends we've had," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said.
That is high praise considering the program has recently sent numerous ends to the NFL, including Bjoern Werner, Brandon Jenkins, Tank Carradine and Everette Brown.
It is hard for FSU coaches to not ramble some when describing Edwards' role. After all, he has the ability to do a little bit of everything up front.
"He can play D-tackle, he can play D-end, he can play a 9-technique, he can play a 7- or a 6-[technique]," Fisher said. "The guy is 305 pounds and can stand still and do back flips in front of you in full pads? I mean, he's athletic."
The football jargon essentially means Edwards will line up at a variety of positions across the defensive line this season.
Named to the All-ACC third team, Edwards was dominant in spurts but did not put up gaudy numbers, finishing with 28 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and 3.5 sacks.
"Sacks don't equate greatness. You watch that film, that guy is a heck of a football player," Fisher said. "You watch when that draft comes around, where he's at."
Edwards has had to prove to people, even his own teammates, that he's more than a run stuffer.
"A lot of people look at me and expect me to kind of be slow or stiff," Edwards aid. "Then when they actually watch me out there playing, they're kind of shocked about it."
Edwards is not as fluid as fellow starting defensive end Chris Casher, who weighs about 50 pounds less than him, but he's athletic enough that FSU's staff feels comfortable having him drop into coverage and guard receivers at times.
"That's just showing how versatile I can really be at 297, 300-pounds," Edwards said. "At this weight now, I've ran my fastest, I've lifted more than I ever have, I just feel a lot more explosive."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun