Football

Former Herd captain Edwards dies at 34

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HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University football program is mourning the loss former center Michael Jeffery “Jeff” Edwards, 34, who died Thursday. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.

Edwards also starred in multiple sports at Ceredo-Kenova High School.

His wife, Danielle, went on Edwards’ Facebook page yesterday to thank the Marshall fans and the Ceredo-Kenova community for their  condolences.

“I just wanted to thank everyone for their kind words,” Danielle Edwards said. “The girls and I are devastated and heartbroken. Please keep us in your prayers.”

Edwards was the anchor for the offensive line as a three-year starter and was part of four Mid-American Conference championship teams and five bowl wins for the Thundering Herd. Edwards came to Marshall as standout at tight end for Ceredo-Kenova but transitioned to center, where he started 32 games for the Herd.

In 2002 as a senior captain, he was part of a class of 15 fifth-year redshirt seniors for the Herd, including starters Chris Crocker, Demetrius Doss, Curtis Jones, Byron Leftwich, Steve Sciullo, Duran Smith, Eddie Smolder, Terence Tarpley and Orlando Washington.

He was a redshirt in 1998, then played as a backup to Jason Starkey in 1999. He started alongside Herd linemen like Smolder — the current Sissonville High coach — and Cabell Midland coach Luke Salmons. They were three in-state players who led the way for Byron Leftwich and the Herd offense from 2000-02.

“Jeff Edwards was a great player but even a better person,” former teammate Nate McPeek said.

McPeek was a three-year starter with Edwards from 2000-02, and a junior tackle for Edwards’ senior season at Marshall. Like many of Edwards’ other teammates on the offensive line, McPeek is coaching high school football and recently became associate head coach and offensive line coach at Tucker High in Atlanta after leading area school Fairview to a Kentucky state championship game two seasons ago.

“He was a great friend and teammate, and I’m still in shock over his passing. Prayers to Danielle, his kids and his family,” McPeek said.

Marshall won the MAC title four times in his five seasons Edwards was on the roster (1998, ’99, 2000, ’02) and won five consecutive bowl games. His redshirt season, MU was 12-1 and won its first bowl game, 48-29, over Louisville in the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Mich. In ’99 – Edwards’ redshirt freshman year — the Herd was 13-0 and finished ranked No. 10 in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today’s Coaches poll with a bowl win over No. 25-ranked BYU in the Pontiac (Mich.) Silverdome.

In 2000, the Herd was 8-5 with Edwards and Leftwich as first-year starters, but won the league and beat Cincinnati in the Motor City Bowl, 25-14. In 2001, Marshall lost in the MAC championship game at Toledo, 41-36, but went on to win the highest-scoring bowl game in history in Mobile, Ala., beating East Carolina in the GMAC Bowl, 64-61 in double-overtime after trailing 38-8 at halftime. The Herd went 11-2 and ranked Nos. 19 (ESPN coaches poll) and 24 (Associated Press).

In Edwards’ senior season, Marshall was again the MAC champ with a 49-45 win over Toledo in Edwards’ final game at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington. The Herd (11-2) returned to Mobile to beat Louisville, 38-15, in the GMAC Bowl.

In five seasons Edwards was on the roster, Herd football was an incredible 55-10 (.846 winning percentage).

At C-K High School, Edwards as a three-sport athlete — four letters in football and three letters each in basketball and baseball. Twice he earned All-State honors and three times was named All-Wayne County, also earning the All Prep-Star Big East Region honors as a junior.

He also played in the 1998 North-South All-Star football game in Charleston, catching an 8-yard touchdown in the game at tight end. He was president of the senior class at C-KHS in 1997-98.

As a senior for the C-K Wonders, Edwards helped lead the team to a 9-1 record in 1997 and No. 2 ranking in Class A in West Virginia, but the team was upset 12-6 by Guyan Valley in a state quarterfinal playoff game. C-K was 7-3 his junior season and ranked No. 13, but was knocked out in the first round by Mount Hope, 24-21, and ranked No. 14 and 5-5 in 1995, losing at No. 3 Hamlin in the first round, 22-6.

As a freshman in 1994, Edwards helped the No. 1-ranked, 14-0 Wonders to the schools 13th state football championship in a 44-0 shutout of No. 2-ranked and Valley-Wetzel in the championship.

Edwards worked for DirecTV, and was a youth sports coach in the Ceredo-Kenova community. He was born March 21, 1980, and is survived by his wife, Danielle, and two daughters, Emma and Ella. He is also survived by an older brother, Brett, and his parents, Bill and Gloria Edwards.

Donations to his family for funeral and other expenses can be sent to a memorial website at http://www.gofundme.com/c2n82g.

About Woody Woodrum

Senior Editor and columnist/writer for Herd Insider since 2003, with Kindred Communications on radio for Marshall football/men's basketball pregame and postgame shows since 1996 and with First Sentry Bank Sportsline (Also Scott on Sports, Sideline Sports and Herd Insider Sportsline) since 1997. Married to Liz (12-22-1990) and one son, Tre' (11-7-1997). National Sportswriters & Sportscasters West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year winner for radio, 2000; won W.Va. Broadcasters Best Talk Show in 2013 with co-host Paul Swann and W.Va. Broadcasters Best Play-by-Play in 2015 with Jason Toy (Huntington at South Charleston, state AAA semifinals). Member of (College) Football Writers Association of America, (College) Basketball Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Color commentator for Marshall football (1999-2000), for Marshall basketball (2004-2016) and Marshall baseball (2004-2016). Color for high school football at Spring Valley (1999-2008), Cabell Midland (2009-2012) and Huntington (W.Va.) High School (2013-2016).

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