MISSOULA — Kale Edwards went down with a self-described ‘gnarly’ injury when a player landed on him and snapped his left leg, leaving the bone sticking out through the skin at the June 2017 Hoopfest basketball tournament in Spokane.
Edwards, an Idaho native who committed to the Montana football team on Friday, didn’t have a college offer at the time and thought his longtime dream of playing college football took a hit.
“That definitely scared me a little bit. It was a shocker,” said Edwards, who was heading into his junior season when he was injured.
Edwards couldn’t move around much for about eight weeks but quickly progressed as he went through physical therapy with family friend and Montana grad Justin Kane. He returned for the state semifinals and championship game as Coeur d’Alene High School finished as the runner-up in Class 5A, the largest classification in Idaho.
“He’s one tough kid,” Coeur d’Alene head coach Shawn Amos said. “He loves football. He’ll do anything to get on the field. He worked hard because it was important to him.”
Entering his senior year with no offers, Edwards played linebacker, safety and defensive end for Coeur d’Alene, which was undefeated before losing in the semifinals. He tallied 74 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and four interceptions.
Edwards also took over at quarterback, replacing Washington Huskies signee Colson Yankoff. He threw for 2,568 yards with 23 touchdowns and six interceptions, and ran for 584 yards and 18 touchdowns. He pitched in on special teams, playing on the hands team and as the backup long snapper.
“It was hard to lose all the work I put in the previous years,” said Edwards, who rebounded to be ranked as a three-star prospect by 247Sports and the No. 2 player in the state of Idaho this year. “But it was definitely helpful. It might have been a blessing in disguise.
“I think I learned a lot about myself when I had to fight through some hard times. Just how quickly something can leave and how I should appreciate it. I’ve never taken a play off, and I think that’s a big part of this last year was how much I enjoyed this game and part of the reason I want to play every play. I understand that can’t happen, but it’s always the goal to get as much out of it as I can as long as I’m able to do it.”
At 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Edwards projects as a defensive player at Montana. The coaches haven’t told him whether he’ll be playing linebacker or safety, he said.
He'll be looking to add weight in the offseason after he plays basketball and competes in track.
“He’s very smart — football smart and academically smart,” Amos said. “He’s a coach’s kid, so he understands the game. He is very physical. He loves the contact aspect of the game. He thrives on the physicality of the game. He’s a big kid, moves pretty well.
“The injury his junior year set him back. When he’s healthy, he’s as good as anybody.”
Edwards’ family has been longtime Griz fans. He also knew former Coeur d’Alene High School quarterback Chad Chalich, who transferred to Montana in 2015.
In addition to those connections, he was sold on Montana because of his relationship with the coaches and how he saw the rest of the recruiting class shaping up. Edwards is the fourth 3-star recruit in Montana’s class of 2019.
“The coaches wrote me a letter for my birthday and a letter before I came to a game,” Edwards said. “It was genuine stuff like that. They kept in touch. They made me feel comfortable for sure.
“And also the other 2019 recruits. I’ve kept in touch with them. I’ve seen the recruiting class that they have, and it seems like we’re going to be a powerful squad to deal with soon.”
Edwards was primarily recruited by assistant head coach and wide receivers coach Brent Pease, who made a trip to Coeur d’Alene in October to see him. Within two weeks, Edwards came to Missoula for the Grizzlies’ game against UC Davis on Oct. 27, and he tweeted he had on offer from Montana on Oct. 29.
Edwards chose the Griz over Montana State, Idaho, Idaho State and MSU-Northern. All of his offers were full-ride scholarships, with his first coming on Sept. 26 and his last one coming from the Cats, who made a late push for him.
Edwards plans to sign with Montana when the early period begins on Dec. 19. He’ll be making an official visit to Montana the week before.
Edwards is the 13th known commit in the Grizzlies' class of 2019. Their out-of-state commits are Joey Elwell of Idaho, Jacob McGourin and Corbin Walker of Washington, and Alex Hurlburt and Nick Ostmo of Oregon.
Their in-state commits are Ryder Meyer of Fairfield, Ryan Tirrell of Loyola, Noah Ambuehl of Great Falls Central, Garrison Poetzl of Billings Senior, Trevin Gradney of Billings West, Kris Brown of Bozeman and Elias DeWaters of Missoula Sentinel.