It’s easy to watch the wide receivers, quarterbacks and relentless running backs at Ouachita Baptist football practice. But if you ask head coach Todd Knight who he admires, it’s freshman fullback Ethan Edwards.
“He’s a valuable part of what we do,” Knight said.
That sounds odd at first, because this year, Edwards plays on the scout team. But you have to understand his story.
At one time, Edwards was a talented high school tailback in a small town in Texas. He was about to move to Arkadelphia for college, when he started to feel ill.
“I was sluggish. I was tired. My body didn’t want to work right,” Edwards said.
He was eventually diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a disease that caused him to lose 73 pounds in two and a half months. On top of that, he was diagnosed with a clostridium difficile infection, which prevented the medicine from doing its job.
“I was on five or six rounds of antibiotics that were the toughest antibiotics you could be on, and it still didn’t get rid of the C. diff.”
As Ethan faced the toughest fight of his life, he never lost faith that he would play football at OBU.
“Most of the time, I was optimistic about it. There were sometimes where I’d get down and say, hey I’m 161 pounds and it’s going to be hard to even look at a football field. But lots of perseverance, lots of family and lots of God.”
OBU never lost faith in him, either.
“A guy that’s lost all that weight, had to go through all the things he’s gone through to get on the field, you gotta admire a guy like that,” Knight said.
As OBU fights for a conference title, Ethan might not play in any games. But he still helps his team from the sidelines, drawing from the fight he’s already won. Indeed, that makes him one of the team’s most important players.
“He’s made an impact and he’s got a chance to be a player for us one day,” Knight said.
“Right now he may be the most physical of all those guys that we have. We just have to get a little more weight on him to get him back on the field. But he’s a fighter, he’s a winner, and we’re really proud of him.”