NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Rod Reed took over the Tennessee State program in 2010 the Tigers were coming off of a 4-7 season. Now the Tigers boast back-to-back winning seasons, a key to Reed’s revival has been his first senior class.
Four years after taking over, Reed and the Tigers have clinched their first back-to-back winning season since 1999. This year’s group of seniors, Reed’s first recruits as a head coach, are the winningest class in over thirteen years compiling a record of 24-20 in their four years in Nashville.
“It feels good to progress to where the program is now; it’ll feel even better to get a win on Saturday and give yourself a possibility to get into the play-offs,” said head man Rod Reed. ” It’s good to see those guys grow and it’s good to see them have success at the end of their careers, and it’ll be great to have them go out with a nine win season.”
To pick up a win today Reed and the Tigers will rely heavily on the senior class; especially in the trenches where the offensive line boasts two 2014 graduates, center Demetrius Rhaney and left guard Kadeem Edwards.
Although the duo is grouped together on the offensive line, the two linemen are roommates and best friends off the field. From hanging out together during the week to cooking dinner at nights the two are inseparable.
“Ever since I got here we hit it off real good,” said Rhaney.
“To have two guys that are playing right beside each other, it’s always good to be comfortable and know that the guy next you has got your back in all situations,” Reed said of the two Floridians pairing together on the line.
The friends have been linked together on the offensive line since Rhaney transferred in from Ellsworth Community College in 2012. In the two years together Rhaney and Edwards have been part of an offensive line that paved the way for back-to-back 1,000 yard rushers, with Trabis Ward (1,422) leading the OVC in rushing in 2012 and senior Tim Broughton (1,029) reaching the mark last time out against Austin Peay.
“Being able to have that leadership up front is always good, cause you’ve got some solid guys who’ve been playing for a long time,” said Reed about his veteran offensive line.
Edwards has been a staple on the offensive line since 2010 making 41 starts for Big Blue in his four years. Although for Edwards, it wasn’t just his football career that will make senior day special.
“It means a lot because I came here as a partial qualifier and to graduate with a degree, it means a lot,” Edwards said.
Being a partial qualifier Edwards had to get everything on track in the classroom before he could appear in a Tigers uniform on gamedays.
“When I got to TSU I had to make school a priority because I wanted to keep playing football,” said Edwards on his academic success at Tennessee State. “So now I take every assignment and every test extremely seriously to do the best I can.”
Another test now sits in the Sanford, Fla. native’s lap with his college career winding down, the NFL.
“When I got to school I just knew I wanted to keep playing football, I would have never imagined being an NFL prospect,” Edwards said. “I’m just excited to make the most of the opportunity.”
But for now Rhaney, Edwards and the rest of the Tigers seniors they are looking to end their careers with a win and a chance to continue on in the FCS play-offs. The next test will be today when the Tigers take on Murray State at LP Field, with kick-off set for 2 p.m.