April 04, 2017

(STATS) - The Eastern Washington at Fordham game on Sept. 16 is one of the best intersectional matchups of the FCS season, but it would have been better suited on last year's schedule.

Such a game would have featured both Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp and Fordham running back Chase Edmonds.

Kupp set the FCS and Division I record for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches as a senior last year. This year is Edmonds' final season at Fordham, and he's on pace to become the all-time leading rusher in the FCS.

"I would have loved to gone out there," Edmonds said. "I wanted to play on the red turf, and I would have loved for it to been this past season so I would have had the chance to go against Cooper Kupp. Honestly, he's somebody that I look up to - he's the greatest FCS receiver."

Edmonds is worth the price of admission as well. Having surpassed 1,600 rushing yards in each of his first three seasons, he has 5,285 over 37 career games. Former Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson holds the FCS all-time rushing record with 6,559 yards.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that it doesn't go through my mind," said Edmonds, a three-time FCS All-American. "What I try to do is focus on what I've been doing the last few years. That's working really hard and working the hardest that I can work."

As Fordham wraps up spring practice this month, Edmonds is focusing on his leadership on what will be one of the Patriot League favorites with defending champion Lehigh. He's an intense competitor and has never been an outspoken type of player, but after Fordham (8-3) was one of the last two teams to miss an at-large bid to the 2016 FCS playoffs, he wants to lead the Rams back there as a senior.

He's not the same-looking player who arrived at Fordham from the Pennsylvania capital of Harrisburg in 2014 and proceeded to win the Jerry Rice Award as the FCS freshman of the year. The 5-foot-9 speedster has gone from weighing 185 pounds to 210 - all with an eye on having an NFL career.

Interestingly, two running backs who are potential first-round picks in this year's NFL Draft - Stanford's Christian McCaffrey (5-11, 202) and Florida State's Dalvin Cook (5-10, 210) - are similar in size to Edmonds, although coming from the FCS, the Fordham standout is viewed as undersized.

"I kind of wanted to put a little bit more pounds on my frame, try to really answer the questions about whether I can run in between the tackles at the next level," said Edmonds, who has totaled 6,645 all-purpose yards and scored 69 touchdowns in his career.

"I need to be able to have better pass technique than a lot of big-school guys, even though I'm undersized. I need to be able to focus on the rush and be a better receiver out of the backfield than the big-school guys. Just because I'm at that disadvantage of being in the FCS. We're starting to get a lot more attention, but we don't get the attention of the Power 5 schools, obviously. So I just have to focus on the little details."

Edmonds considered transferring from Fordham to the FBS level following his sophomore season, when head coach Joe Moorhead resigned to become the offensive coordinator at Penn State. Moorhead had recruited Edmonds with the promise he would have a chance to earn playing time as a running back in his freshman season when other college suitors talked about redshirting him and ultimately playing him in the slot.

Edmonds eventually decided he didn't want to give up what he had at Fordham, realized he could still reach the NFL coming out of the FCS level and would be returning to a program that's now guided by Andrew Breiner, Fordham's offensive coordinator during Edmonds' first two seasons.

Under Breiner, Edmonds' dominating ways continued last year, when he led the FCS in rushing yards per game (163.5). In a win over Lafayette, Edmonds set the NCAA record for the most yards per carry in a game (21.9) as he set the Patriot League mark with 359 yards on 17 carries.

Having rewritten so many school and league records already, there's another big one out there held by Peterson, the 1999 Walter Payton Award winner.

Oh yes, in each of the last two seasons, Edmonds has finished fourth in the voting for that award - the Heisman of the FCS. Maybe he's putting it on his things-to-do list this year.

"I don't play this game to be second, I don't play this game to fit in," Edmonds said. "I play this game to be the best on the field at all times."

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