When Javier Edwards watches film of his play during the 2017 season with the Colorado football team, he's not a big fan of what he sees.
"Of course, I was inexperienced and had never played at the D-I level," he said, "but that just wasn't me. I think I'm 10 times better than what I displayed. I just have to get better."
Now a senior and entering his second season with the Buffaloes, Edwards is doing all he can to be a greater asset in the center of the defensive line.
Edwards arrived at CU in January of 2017 as a transfer from Blinn College in Texas, and at the time of his arrival, he had about 390 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame.
By the time the football season rolled around, he was about 360 and won the starting job at nose tackle. He had his good moments, finishing with 33 tackles and a sack, but was too often pushed off the line by opponents. He also struggled with fatigue at times.
New defensive line coach Kwahn Drake, hired in January, said when he watched film of Edwards, he noticed the strength and power, but said, "One of the things we wanted to do was control his weight so it affects his ability to move laterally. We thought if he was a little less weight heavy he'd be a better power rusher and also give us an opportunity to rush the passer."
This spring, Edwards is just under 340 pounds and feeling much better than at any time during 2017.
"It's a good feeling when you wake up in the morning and you see the body changing," he said. "It motivates you to keep going right."
On the field, Edwards is hoping to make a bigger impact at nose tackle, and he's already seeing the benefits of his weight loss.
"It definitely makes me feel like I can play more," he said. "I can do more things, I can be more versatile. I just can help the team more."
Head coach Mike MacIntyre said there have been no negatives to Edwards' weight loss — such as loss of strength — and that it will only help Edwards and the Buffs to have him playing smaller.
"He's fresher for more plays and able to stay aggressive for more plays in a row, which is good," MacIntyre said. "I'm excited where he's headed and hopefully he'll keep going in that direction."
Asked about the last time he played this "small," Edwards joked, "Little league."
In reality, it was during his time at Aldine Davis High School in Houston that Edwards weighed around 320-325 pounds. He's aiming to get to 325 for this season.
Until last season, Edwards always benefitted from being bigger than everybody he was battling and he often just used his sheer size and strength to make plays. He learned quickly last season, however, that at the Division I level, leverage is more important.
At a smaller weight, Edwards believes he's better suited to get low and win one-on-one battles.
"The lower I am, the more I can help the team," he said. "The biggest thing I have to do to get better is better pad level, better footwork. That's the first thing I saw (with the weight loss): I can stay lower, I can bend better."
MacIntyre said Edwards "is a lot better than he was at this time last year."
Edwards and the Buffs are hoping he's a lot better in the fall, too. The Buffs' defensive line struggled throughout the 2017 season, and Edwards wants to make sure he's in position to help that group improve.
"We just have to get better (as a group); we just have to continue to progress," he said. "(Personally), I'm moving faster, and my stamina, I don't get nearly as tired. I just can play longer and do more things."