After playing a season in the Canadian Football League 2,237 miles from where he grew up, former University of Maine All-Colonial Athletic Association wide receiver-kick returner Earnest Edwards is returning home.
Edwards recently signed a one-year deal with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts after being released by the Edmonton Elks.
Toronto is a reasonable 272 miles from his hometown of Rochester, New York.
“This is the closest I will be to home in a long time. A lot of friends and family will be able to come to my games if they’re vaccinated [against COVID-19],” Edwards said.
“I feel wanted. Finally,” he added.
Edwards will go from a team that finished tied for the worst record in the CFL at 3-11 to the East Division regular season champions. He played in seven of Edmonton’s 14 games this past season and finished with 15 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown. He also carried the ball twice for seven yards, returned 18 punts for 96 yards (5.3 yards per return) and 12 kickoffs for 203 yards (16.9 ypr).
His best performance came in the Elks’ last game of the season when he caught a team-high six passes for 48 yards in a 43-10 loss to British Columbia.
Edwards said he wasn’t surprised that Edmonton released him because the Elks overhauled their front office, firing the president, general manager and head coach.
“They cleared people out and I was one of them,” Edwards said.
Toronto went 9-5 in the regular season but lost to Hamilton in the East Division playoff finals, 27-19.
“I feel confident in what I can do. I’m going to work my butt off like I always do,” said the speedy Edwards, who now has a year under his belt in the CFL after adjusting to the different rules and longer and wider fields compared with those in American football.
“I want to earn a starting spot or at least a spot on the team,” he said.
Toronto plays its first preseason game at Ottawa on May 27 and opens the regular season at home against Montreal on June 16.
The 23-year-old Edwards, who is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, caught 125 passes during his UMaine career and is the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,641), kick return yards (2,311), kick returns (90) and kick-return touchdowns (6).