CLEVELAND, Ohio – One day after Julian Edelman from New England called Super Bowl MVP, I called Doug Martin.
Martin opened the university door of Division I for Edelman when no one else was willing to do so.
It was spring 2006. Martin was head coach at Kent State. The flashes came from a season of 1-10, 0-8 in the Mid-American Conference.
Their last game was a loss of 35-3 for the rival University of Akron when they finished the season with a losing streamer of nine games.
"We had to find a quarterback somewhere," said Martin, now head coach at the state of New Mexico.
Martin sent his assistant Pete Rekstis to California, looking for quarterback gold in the lush fields of the junior college football program's of that state.
"We needed a man who could play now," said Martin.
Martin called several junior college coaches in California. His assistants did the same.
They started the search with a name – Julian Edelman.
"I was instructed to check him by Mark Rhea," said Rekstis, now the defensive coordinator of the University of Rhode Island.
Rhea was short with the Kent staff, but had gone further. He is now an assistant at Western Carolina.
Rekstis stopped at several junior colleges in California. He often heard the name Edelman from JUCO coaches before he asked for quarterbacks.
"Julian was a unique situation," said Martin. "He had the ranks to go to a four-year-old school, but nobody recruited him as a quarterback."
Edelman went to Woodside High School, also in the Bay Area of Northern California. His team was 13-0. He threw 29 TD passes and another 13 ran on.
Why was no one interested in him?
"He is 5-foot-10," Martin said.
Large-scale quarterbacks must be at least 6 foot-3.
"He played a lot of wishbone," said Rekstis. "That showed his walking ability."
But it was not a violation meant to call on Division I divisions looking for a quarterback.
So he took part in nearby San Mateo, a traditional Californian JUCO powerhouse.
It took one game for Larry Owens, coach of San Mateo, to decide to start Edelman. He raced to 1,253 yards and 17 TD's. He also threw 14 TD passes. He was a Junior College All-American.
Edelman thought that would be enough to arouse the interest of large university football programs.
He thought wrong.
Martin and his coaches received videotapes from Edelman's junior college games for a whole season.
They were mesmerized.
"Athletics jumped right out," Martin said. "He was a great runner, one of those guys who could not tackle anyone – not even in a telephone booth, he just had a way to get free."
Rekstis heard about the leadership qualities and strength of Edelman.
OK, he was only 5-foot-10.
And he was not a classic passer.
"But he was a winner," Martin said. "We flew him to Kent and you could see that after he had talked to him for a few minutes."
Suddenly Edelman was wanted.
"He had a few teams, such as Boise State, who saw him as an athlete, perhaps a defensive back," said Martin. "But he wanted to play quarterback."
Martin said that Edelman wanted to know two things:
1. Did the coaches of Kent believe in him?
2. Could he play quarterback?
That was easy for Martin. He had a big question mark at quarterback and his eyes and heart told him that Edelman could be the answer.
Edelman returned to California. He did not even know that Kent State was a Division I program until he heard that the Flashes had an interest in him. Not long after his visit he joined KSU.
It was his only Division I quarterback option.
TO TAKE OVER
Edelman had to beat Michael Machen. He was a former player in the minor league who went to Kent State to play football.
Machen was the starter in the 1-10 season.
"Do you know how long it took for Jules to win the job?" Early Rekstis. "About 10 minutes after our first training."
"He was so competitive, so confident and so focused," said Rekstis. "He was also perhaps our best athlete."
Rekstis and Martin began to compare Edelman with Joshua Cribbs, the quarterback of the state of Kent from 2001-04.
While Cribbs did not go to elementary school, he was a star quarterback in high school. Maryland and other big programs ?? s wanted him back as a defender. Former Kent Coach Dean Pees was able to recruit Cribbs on the promise to be a quarterback. Cribbs later had a long career at the Browns as a special team player and a part-time receiver.
Martin and Rekstis had coached Cribbs in his last season in Kent. They saw the same determination and walking ability in Edelman.
"There was never an on-off period with Edelman," said Rekstis. "He was always on the go."
Martin was surprised and impressed by how Edelman quickly ended up in the face of some of his teammates and challenged them & # 39 ;.
Do not forget that this was a 1-10 team. Bad habits had developed.
"Jules was not worried about being liked," Martin said. "Most children do that, he wanted to be respected, he wanted to win, he changed our culture."
The flashes were 6-6 (5-3 in the MAC) in the first season of Edelman.
Edelman played at Kent State for three years.
On 5-foot-10 he would not become an NFL quarterback.
"But he was an NFL athlete," said Martin. "Someone just had to see it and find the right place to play."
In his last season with the Flashes, Edelman hastened to a Cribbs-like 1,370 yards and 13 TDs in 12 games. He also threw 13 passes.
Martin began to return Edelman and the & # 39; protector & # 39; to be when his team puntered.
"I wanted to show NFL teams that Jules could help with special teams," he explained.
Just to add to its value, Edelman even kicked four times for an average of 39.3 meters.
He was not invited to the NFL Combine. Kent State had a pro day, and some scouts showed up.
"But the team that was most interested was New England," said Martin. "They did not just send scouts, they sent their entire offensive coaching team to talk to him, I mean, every coach of that staff met Jules before the draft and worked it out."
Edelman was picked in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, the 232nd selection, by the Patriots. His only guaranteed money was a signing bonus of $ 48,700.
The Patriots made him a punter and kickoff. They also taught him to play the receiver. In the first four seasons Edelman was mainly used in special teams. But gradually he became valuable as a slot recipient.
He became one of Tom Brady's favorite receivers.
Edelman missed the 2017 season due to ACL knee surgery. He was suspended for the first four games of 2018 due to a failed NFL Performance Enhancing Drugs test.
When Edelman eventually played, he had 74 receptions in 12 games.
He caught 10 passes in the 13-3 victory of New England on the Rams and Edelman earned the MVP award.
"I still get lyrics from him," Martin said. "He keeps in touch with many of us who believed in him, that's something I like about him, he's a loyal guy."