By choosing to wear the No. 1 jersey, Braylon Edwards showed that he wants the spotlight. But if he doesn’t produce next season, the man who gave him the number just might take it away.
“You might see him wear Number 1 one day and Number 80 the next,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr joked.
Edwards earned the prestigious number – worn by Michigan wide receiving greats Anthony Carter, Derrick Alexander and David Terrell – by catching 67 passes for 1,035 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, establishing himself as one of the top receivers in the Big Ten.
“I got a deal with Edwards, which I won’t go into,” Carr said. “When we recruited him, he wanted (No. 1). I told him he could earn it. So he’s earned the opportunity to wear it.”
“I noticed that the great receivers wore Number 1, so I just wanted to be a part of that tradition, and coach Carr gave me the nod,” Edwards said.
But there’s more to wearing that number than just running crisp routes and being faster than the guy across from you. Carr is hesitant to give out the number for a reason.
“To me, that number signifies that you will play with certain characteristics,” Carr said.
Time will tell whether Edwards possesses those, but it’s obvious that the junior wants to prove to Carr and his teammates that he does.
“I see myself as a leader, because anybody who has success is looked up to as someone who has to lead the team,” Edwards said. “I definitely have to lead by example. This summer, we’re going to practice hard.
“(No. 1) is a significant number on any team, and people will go after (No. 1), but even if they go after me, we have a great receiving corps.”
Edwards’ prediction for his unit may not be far off. Sophomore Jason Avant and junior Jermaine Gonzales are the front-runners to accompany Edwards in two- and three-wide receiver sets, and seniors Tyrece Butler and Calvin Bell give the Wolverines experienced depth that could explode at any minute.
“We’ll be able to have four or five wide receivers at a time,” Edwards said.
Avant logged significant minutes as a true freshman last season – an oddity at Michigan, and Carr is so excited about him that he wouldn’t even distinguish between Edwards and Avant (regardless of what the jerseys say) as No. 1 or No. 2 on the depth chart. Carr stressed how important it was that Avant was involved in every gameplan last season.
“Avant you just love, because Avant is an all-out, all the time, pure football player,” Carr said. “He is a great blocker, a tenacious competitor, and he’s having a very, very good spring. He will catch the ball over the middle. He’s smart, he can play any of those positions. We have four- and three-wide receiver sets, so the more a guy knows, the more valuable he is. I like him. I like him a lot.”
Gonzales, who switched from quarterback just one year ago, showed in the final spring practice Saturday that he has learned how to find holes in the defense. While redshirt freshmen Carl Tabb and Steve Breaston are still unknown quantities, they both are in contention for playing time next season.