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Local running back chasing his NFL dream

HARRISBURG, Pa. - He didn't play for a big college football program, but he has big dreams.

Former CD East running back Chase Edmonds has never been shy about his goals.

"I want to go to the NFL, win Rookie of the Year and show people I can play football," said Edmonds.

And he has a habit of backing up his words.  The Harrisburg native has excelled at every level of the sport so far.

Panthers head coach Aaron Blanding will probably never forget Edmonds high school football debut.  The first time the freshman touched the ball, he returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.

From that point on, Blanding knew Edmonds was something special.

"His entire time in high school, he showed that work ethic," said Blanding.  "He never wanted to be last in anything, he always wanted to be first.  He would get into lifting competitions with the linemen, and he just had that drive that was constantly there."

Edmonds also prides himself on that work ethic.

"I wasn't one of those guys who would just yap, yap, yap and never had any action," said Edmonds.  "I tried to make sure I was always the hardest worker on the field at all times."

Despite an outstanding high school career, the 5'9" 190 lb tailback didn't generate much interest from major college football programs.

"Going in, he was a little small," said Blanding.  "So some of the bigger schools kind of passed on him."

"I wasn't an All-American, I wasn't a 5-star recruit," said Edmonds.  "But I kind of just kept faith, stayed the course and kept working hard.  And next thing you know, you get a couple of opportunities."

After signing with Fordham University in New York, he made the most of those opportunities.  Even setting new Patriot League records in the process, including career rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

Edmonds then earned an invitation to the NFL combine, where he impressed many scouts by posting the fastest times of all the running backs in both the 20-yard shuttle and the three-cone drill.

Even so, coming from a smaller school isn't easy.  Since 1968, only one player from Fordham has been drafted.  But for Edmonds, that just adds fuel to the fire.

"I get ticked off (when people doubt me)," said Edmonds.  "But I think I get more satisfaction after I prove them wrong."

"Huge," answered Blanding, when asked about the size of the chip on Edmonds' shoulder.  "And that's the way he likes it.  If you tell him he's too small, he's going to get bigger.  If you tell him he's too slow, he's going to get faster.  When you tell him he can't do something, that just grows and grows, and it eats him up inside.  And that's a good thing, because he handles it in the right way."

Besides that chip on his shoulder, Edmonds is also motivated by family, including his 3-year-old daughter Avery and his late Uncle Joe.

Like a second father to Edmonds, Uncle Joe never missed a game until he died when Edmonds was just 9 years old.  A tattoo near Edmonds' heart reads "RIP Uncle Joe."

"He always used to say 'Nephew, you're going to the NFL,' and being 9 or 10, you don't think much of it," said Edmonds.  "But now, when I'm working out, doing a set or a rep, I always tell myself 'Uncle Joe, this is for you.'  And I know he's smiling down on me.  And I know when I finally get to hear my name called (in the draft), it will be a big weight off my shoulders that he can know that his nephew made it."

Nothing is guaranteed in the draft, but Edmonds has already drawn interest from almost a dozen NFL teams, including the Giants, Patriots and Eagles.  Some draft experts are projecting Edmonds could go as high as the 4th round.

The NFL Draft will air on Fox43 Thursday night starting at 8:00pm and Friday night at 7:00pm.