"It's been really frustrating," said Edwards, a senior running back for the Red Wings. "It's always been holding me back. I can't believe it."
Last year, right before the season was set to begin, Edwards suffered a left separated shoulder that kept him on the sidelines for a few weeks. The injury slowed Edwards' progress and he really never got going last season. Sure, Edwards showed some moments of brilliance as the Red Wings went on to the NJSIAA Group I state playoffs, but he never reached his full potential.
As the 2008 season began, Edwards vowed that he was 100 percent healthy - for the time being.
In the first quarter of the first game against Hillhouse of Connecticut, Edwards injured the right shoulder, forcing him to the sidelines once again. The injury was so severe that Edwards missed the entire second game of the season, a devastating loss to St. Joseph of Montvale, a setback that set the Red Wings back to 0-2 to start the new campaign.
"All the time, I was saying, 'Why me?'" Edwards said. "I never said that I was going to quit, but I did wonder why it was happening to me again. Now, it was both shoulders, but I knew I had to get myself better and get back on the field again. It was very hard for me to sit and watch."
Hoboken head coach Lou Taglieri knew that Edwards had unlimited potential. He just had to be able to keep Edwards on the field.
"There's always been a concern there about Colin's shoulders," Taglieri said. "He's taken some hits there. It's been the cause of a lot of frustration."
After the latest injury, Edwards worked diligently with Dr. Kevin Julian of Jersey City, who has worked wonders with several other Hoboken athletes over the last two decades. Dr. Julian treated Edwards with kit gloves, knowing fully well that as a senior, Edwards was running out of chances to impress colleges with the hope of Edwards eventually playing college football.
"That's my goal," Edwards said. "I want to play on the next level. I knew I had to get healthy and get back out there. It's been motivating me to stay healthy."
"For him to get some looks from the major colleges, he has to start producing," Taglieri said. "If he wants to go to college, he has to show he can play."
With Julian's assistance, Edwards was able to return to action two weeks ago against Marist and saw limited action, although Edwards did manage to reach the end zone twice.
However, before the Red Wings faced Lincoln last Saturday, Edwards felt 100 percent healthy for the first time in quite a while.
"I was feeling good," Edwards said. "I was ready."
How ready? The affable Edwards made a bold pre-game prediction.
"I remembered that he scored two touchdowns last year against Lincoln," Taglieri said. "So before the game, I asked Colin if he was ready to get three this time. He said, 'No problem. I'll get three.' I could tell he was ready. When he's healthy, he's a different person. If his shoulders were healthy, then he was ready to get going."
Sure enough, Saturday's game against Lincoln was Edwards' coming out party, because he lived up to his pre-game promise. Edwards rushed for 215 yards on 10 carries and scored three touchdowns, leading the Red Wings to an easy 42-12 victory, pushing Hoboken's record back to .500 at 2-2 in the process.
For his efforts, Edwards has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Edwards was pleased that his pre-game prognostication came true.
"It was a pretty good prediction," Edwards laughed. "It's exactly what I did. I think I said it to prove to myself that I could do it. I know that if I can stay healthy, I can do anything."
Taglieri loves the way Edwards runs.
"When he gets going, he has great peripheral vision," Taglieri said. "He's not going to go down easily. Plus, he has that great breakaway speed and that's a great help. Without a doubt, he makes us a better football team when he's healthy and able to do what he can do."
Added Taglieri, "I also can tell from his face when he's ready to go. When he's having a good day, he's smiling and his eyes are wide. That's when I know he's Colin again."
Taglieri was quick to point out that Edwards comes from a strong blood line. His uncle is Grover Edwards, the former Bayonne standout who went on to have a nice career at Penn State.
"I wish I didn't like the kid as much as I do," Taglieri said. "But that's not the case. He's such a likeable kid. And without a doubt, when he's injury-free, he's right there with the best in this county. I know I wouldn't trade him for anyone."
Edwards is trying not to think about his shoulders when he takes the field.
"It's always in the back of my mind, because if I'm not better, I might pull the shoulder out again," Edwards said. "But I'm trying to keep it out of my mind, because I don't want it to stop me. It doesn't help me at all if I think about it too much. I think it's totally better now. I just have to keep going. I feel pretty good now, but it's been hard. I'm more than glad to get things going and prove that I can be one of the best."
Taglieri said that he still has high hopes for his speedy runner.
"I just hope we can get to the state playoffs and if we're lucky enough to do that, then I'd like to see what he could do," Taglieri said. "He's a very special player."
And Colin Edwards is finally getting the chance to live up to his immense potential, because he's finally healthy and on the field. - Jim Hague