When Bills coach Sean McDermott was with the Panthers, the centerpiece his defense was all-world linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was named First Team All-Pro three times in his first four seasons.
In Buffalo, McDermott is entrusting that role to Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, whom the Bills traded up to select 16th overall.
Those are big shoes to for a 19-year-old to fill. When Edmunds suits up for the Bills’ opener, he’ll be 20 years and 130 days old, making him the second-youngest player to ever step on an NFL field.
His father, former Pro Bowler Ferrell Edmunds, has advice for Bills fans who are worried about Tremaine’s age: Knock that off.
“Age is not a concern,” Ferrell Edmunds said Friday on the turf at New Era Field. “He’s not trying to gain status because he’s the youngest or this and that, he’s trying to gain status because he’s the best player that Buffalo can put out there. That’s the thing that I teach him.”
"I'm a young guy, but at the same time, I'm a very mature guy,” Edmunds said while sitting next to quarterback Josh Allen at their introductory press conference. “I've been around older guys my whole life. And I know this is a different stage, but I'm a mature guy. My parents did a good job of raising me.”
Tremaine was always the youngest of his peers, Ferrell said. They could’ve kept him back to be with kids his own age, but Ferrell and his wife Felicia didn’t see the point.
“He wanted to be challenged,” Ferrell Edmunds said. “Why wouldn’t you want your kid to be challenged? If he’s not challenged he’ll get bored, then you start getting into stuff. We felt like education, education was very important for us. You want to challenge your kid to be the best he can be. By making him be the youngest in class competing with people that have the same drive and goals that he has, I think that’s the best way to go about it.”
Tremaine and older brother Terrell on Friday became the first pair of brothers to be selected in the first round of the same draft – Terrell, a safety, went 28th to the Steelers.
“That’s history, man,” Tremaine said. “My emotions, after I heard that, my heart started beating real fast. And to see the smile on my brother's face, to see the smile on my whole family's face…”
Ferrell ended up in Buffalo with Tremaine on Friday while Felicia was in Pittsburgh with Terrell – “His mom tells me where to go and I go,” Ferrell said with a hearty laugh.
He could hardly put into words what draft night was like for the family.
“Any time you have someone you love having success, it’s a great feeling,” Ferrell said. “To see my boy work from little league – I was the high school coach, so I had an opportunity to coach all three of my boys – it’s a dream for me to see the kids come all the way to their dreams. Everybody dreams about playing in the NFL. To really see your name run across the screen, it’s a dream come true.”
Ferrell hadn’t been on the field in Orchard Park since playing here with the Dolphins in the early 1990s. He never thought he’d be back in a Bills cap, but he always had a healthy respect the franchise and warmed to the team when his older son, Trey, roomed with Bruce Smith’s son Alston at Virginia Tech. (Trey now plays for the Saints.)
As a former coach, Ferrell couldn’t leave the field without being asked what position he thinks Tremaine would be best served playing in the Bills’ defense.
His answer was all of them.
McDermott will take it.
“Tremaine is an athlete. As a coach, I played him every position I could think of,” Ferrell said. “That kid, he’s a student of the game. Let me tell you, he’s going to bring a lot. Wherever you need him, he’s going to master it because that’s his mentality. He’s going to prepare to be successful, that’s his mentality. The worst thing he used to tell me, ‘don’t label me as that position, I can play anything you put me at.’ He takes pride in being an athlete, being a person that can play anywhere you need.”
Story topics: Tremaine Edmunds