The Career Numbers
- 381 tackles
- 15.0 tackles for loss
- 1.0 sack
- 8 interceptions
- 3 forced fumbles
- 26 passes defended
The Cincinnati Bearcats secondary has been blessed during the last four years. It has been, coincidentally, blessed by No. 4 during those four years, as Zach Edwards has been one of the best safeties in the American Athletic Conference and in program history.
Edwards’ greatest strength was his ability to take down opposing ball carriers. His 381 total tackles rank fourth all-time at UC behind Karl Woods (502), Phillip Curry (487) and Brad Jackson (392). He recorded at least 90 tackles in each of the last three seasons and never had fewer than the 73 he posted as a true freshman. His sophomore year was clearly the standout in this regard as he racked up 122 stops. Edwards also showed an ability to create negative plays as well, making sure to sprinkle in some tackles for loss with all those normal takedowns. He had 4.5 TFL as a senior, matching his career-high and giving him 15 for his career.
The former three-star recruit, who actually came to UC as a wide receiver, did more than just tackle some folks, though. A ballhawk who played well in coverage, Edwards snagged eight interceptions in his four seasons, including a personal best of three in 2015. He also forced three fumbles, so the ball was never safe when opposing offenses had possession. His ability to get in front of passes didn’t always lead to picks, but it did lead to incompletions quite a bit. By breaking up 26 passes in his career, Edwards made life hard for enemy quarterbacks.
His senior season featured his first sack of his career, but he also set career-lows in solo tackles (55), interceptions (one) and passes defended (five). However, he also only played in 10 games due to a hamstring injury. With three more games, Edwards very well would have gone out setting personal records across the board.
The Best of the Best
Oct. 30, 2013 at Memphis
In a 34-21 victory against the Tigers, Edwards was all over the field, recording 11 tackles, including one for loss. He also recovered a fumble in his breakout game.
Sept. 20, 2014 vs. Miami-Ohio
For the second-straight week, Edwards finished with double-digit tackles (12) while also bringing a ball carrier down behind the line to go with an interception and a pass defended.
Oct. 4, 2014 vs. Memphis
Edwards sure liked to play Memphis. He recorded 18 tackles, including 0.5 for loss although UC did not end up winning the contest.
Nov. 13, 2014 vs. East Carolina
It was a record-setting day for Edwards, who tied the all-time best mark for solo tackles in a single game with 12. He finished with 16 total tackles in the victory.
Nov. 7, 2015 at Houston
Not only did Edwards record 11 tackles (one of only two double-digit tackle games during his junior season) he also recorded the second of three interceptions for the 2015 season.
Oct. 22, 2016 vs. East Carolina
13 tackles and one for loss were a nice way for Edwards to make his presence felt during a 31-19 victory.
Nov. 18, 2016 vs. Memphis
Fittingly enough, Edwards’ last game against the Tigers was one of his best as he had 11 tackles, 1.5 for loss and two passes defended.
A Final Goodbye
Edwards is a dedicated Bearcat and will always be welcome back at the UC table. Despite the fact that he won’t benefit from the new coaching staff, he has given Luke Fickell and company his seal of approval.
Seeing the staff @CoachFick is putting together makes me wish I had more years of eligibility!— Zachery Edwards (@ZachEdwards_) January 4, 2017
Edwards is eligible for the NFL Draft, however, and there’s a decent shot he will find his way onto an NFL roster. According to CBS Sports, Edwards is the No. 20 free safety prospect for the 2017 draft and the No. 440 overall prospect. While that is far outisde the roughly 256 picks each year, Edwards could sneak in for a team that needs help in the secondary and should. Wherever he ends up, you can bet UC will be behind him.