Canes fans no doubt remember Gus “the Bus” Edwards, the bruising tailback that went into last year’s fall camp as the back to beat for the 2015 season.
The 6-2, 235-pound bus sustained a season-ending flat tire – a Lisfranc fracture, in medical terminology – during a 2015 preseason scrimmage, and after completing a long, painful rehabilitation, is ready to compete in Saturday’s first scrimmage of the spring.
“I tore the ligament between the top of my [left] foot,’’ Edwards, a redshirt junior, said after practice Thursday at Greentree Field. “I’m full go. I’m doing every single thing the coaches ask me to do. I’m ready for full contact. I’m just excited to be out here.’’
Edwards said the surgery, in which doctors inserted five screws and a metal plate, was the first of his life and that his teammates, his “brothers,’’ he called them, “did a great job of keeping my head in the game, just giving me good words of wisdom.’’
He said the first three months he was “very limited.’’
“I couldn’t do a lot,’’ Edwards said. “After that I came out here just running straight ahead. No quick moves.’’
Edwards said he attended practice whenever possible and sent out daily text messages to support his teammates. “Just trying to do anything I could to be part of the team.’’
In 2014, Edwards played in 12 games and rushed for 349 yards and six touchdowns on 61 carries for a 5.7-yard-per-carry average.
Competing with Edwards will be No. 1 Joe Yearby, who rolled as the featured back in Edwards’ absence, gaining 1,002 yards and six touchdowns on 205 attempts (4.9-yard average). Yearby added 273 receiving yards and two touchdown catches.
“He’s a shifty back,’’ Edwards said of Yearby. “He has great quickness. We both can wear down defenses if we’re both used.’’
Be assured that Mark Walton will be used as well, with 463 yards and nine touchdowns rushing last season as a true freshman, and more than capable hands that caught 22 passes for 293 yards and a touchdown.
Trayone Gray, listed as 6-2 and 216 pounds, is the other running back this spring, with 5-11, 195-pound Travis Homer of West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy expected to arrive this summer.
Edwards was fully aware that new UM coach Mark Richt is known for featuring his running backs.
“I watched Georgia football,’’ he said. “He’s a [UM alum] so you know he loves the program. His heart is going to be into it. You can tell by the way he coaches us. He coaches us hard. All the position coaches coach us hard. Their hearts are into it as much as ours.
“It’s fun being out there.’’
Nonetheless, Richt said coaches were disappointed on Tuesday that Edwards didn’t finish runs in space the way they expected. He said Edwards started running harder Thursday.
“He’s got ability,’’ Richt said. “He’s just got to really practice hard every single snap.’’
▪ Richt said Thursday that he still is deciding who deserves to be the backup quarterback, at least at this point, to starter Brad Kaaya. Though redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier had that 20-for-29 performance for 272 yards and two touchdowns in the miracle-eight-lateral victory at Duke, he isn’t penciled in as yet. After Kaaya, Richt will rotate the others to lead the second- and third teams. Besides Kaaya and Rosier, there’s redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs, redshirt sophomore Vincent Testaverde and true freshman Jack Allison.