Junior Edison running back Eldridge “E.J.” Thomas stole the show in Edison’s 34-0 win against Homestead at Curtis Park on Thursday.
He ran with conviction, displayed great vision in finding running lanes and hit those holes with alacrity. The 2017 prospect who played sparingly at the end of last season proved to possess some workhorse qualities with 23 carries for 150 yards and three touchdowns.
The scores went for 25, 7 and 20 yards.
“The first touchdown run -- I just saw daylight. Someone tried to catch me, and I just ran with all my strength,” Thomas said.
He is currently not being recruited by any schools. He doesn’t have ideal size at 5-8, 165 pounds but possesses the running ability to make up for it.
“He ran hard last week (finished with 16 yards on eight carries in the 19-0 loss to Southridge). It carried over,” coach Herb Herring said. “His teammates were able to step it up and also play harder for him because they saw what he did on film. That got everyone motivated.
“As the season progresses, I’m sure the offers will come rolling in.”
Big 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman Keldrick Cesar anchored an offensive line that paved the way for 274 rushing yards. He lined up all over the line but mostly at left tackle.
Cesar told me postgame that some SEC schools are starting to show interest – notably Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Cesar already lists offers from USF, Syracuse, FIU and Middle Tennessee State among a few others.
Alec Damier is another lineman that looked solid blocking in the Red Raiders’ rushing attack. Often times, he would line up as the guard on the same left side as Cesar. When Edison ran that way, Homestead could offer minimal resistance. Damier is getting interest from the HBCU programs in Florida.
Edison forced six turnovers – picking up four fumbles and picking off two passes. Junior defensive backs Kevontae Lee and Kareem Gaiter looked nearly identical skying for interceptions in single coverage on floating passes.
-Gerald Payoute is a solid looking senior linebacker at 205 pounds. His recruitment will certainly pick up throughout the season.
“He’s strong in the weight room,” Herring said. “He loves the weight room. He lives there.”
-Senior Jhoan Tejada was beastly at linebacker, fighting off blockers and exhibiting a tremendous motor. He registered a sack and a fumble recovery.
-Senior wide receiver Alberto Peña caught just one pass but put his capabilities with the ball in his hands on the pedestal, leaving one Homestead defender in the turf with a spin move on a second-half carry in the open field when it appeared he was sure to get wrapped up.
-Junior quarterback Malcolm Vigile ran for 81 yards and had one of the game's biggest highlights with a 53-yard touchdown on the opening drive that set the tone for the rest of the night.
-Athlete Ontebius “OC” Cherry looks the part playing both sides of the ball with decent size and speed. He had a sack in the contest.
Homestead didn’t have a great outing but had some players show their talents.
FAU safety/outside linebacker commit Rashad Smith had to be moved around with Homestead fielding a depleted linebacker corps devastated by injuries. He was rarely in the secondary with the way Edison was running the ball and played some Mike in addition to outside.
Like the Broncos’ first game against Ferguson where he had more than 20 tackles, he was depended on a lot defensively.
One prospect to keep your eye on in coming years: sophomore athlete Isaac Lipscomb. Lining up at wide receiver at 6-2 and 180 pounds, he went up on a smaller corner, broke a tackle and bolted for a 90-yard catch and run to get the Broncos down to the 3-yard line before getting caught from behind.
Marius showed some flashes, appearing aggressive in pursuit and also recovering a fumble.
Kitchen (5-10, 255 pounds) busted through between the center and guard on one play to tackle the running back for a 5-yard loss on the exchange from the quarterback. He also proved he can move well with his weight, bouncing outside for a stop on the next play.
If Kitchen can wrap up more consistently and get into the 270-280 range by the time he’s a senior, he can put together a solid offer sheet.