Ed Waite Takes His Talents to Kessler Field

From the court to the gridiron, MU senior Ed Waite has begun his transition from power forward to wide receiver. After spring practices had already begun for MU football, Waite decided he’d like to try his hand at football, a sport he hasn’t played since his sophomore year of high school.

Set to graduate from the university in May, Waite played four seasons of basketball, and has one year of eligibility left if he plays a different sport, per NCAA rules. He will still be enrolled in classes and he’s weighing the possibilities of a graduate program.

“I really didn’t know what I was going to do after graduating here, so I just thought about my options,” Waite said. With a stat line of 50 catches, 1,059 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in his one season of football at Pine Crest High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., football was one of those options.

The decision was endorsed by his former basketball coach, King Rice. “It was something that had been in his mind since I’ve been here,” Rice said. “I didn’t know if it would work out here at Monmouth. I didn’t know if he would get a chance just to do the combine, or if he would go to another school to try it. Ed was a high-level guy in high school, so I thought after college it might be something he should try.”

His time away from football hasn’t stopped scouts from coming to see him. According to Rice, he had an opportunity to meet with a person affiliated with the NFL before the basketball season started.

Waite finished his basketball career with 1,045 points, 17th all-time for the Hawks, while playing in 124 games in his career. Listed at 6’3”, 215 pounds, Waite possesses a body suited for football. On the field, he has a distinct advantage with his height and build.

As former basketball teammate Dion Nesmith, who made the change from football to basketball at the collegiate level, said, “I think his transition will be good. If you’ve seen Ed play basketball, it looks like he’s playing football out there.”

MU is returning four of its five wide receivers next season, with former defensive back Elijah Phillips also making the move to receiver. It will require a lot of effort and dedication for Waite to establish a role on the team.

The group of receivers have done their part in helping to make Waite’s transition as smooth as possible. He spends a lot of time working with wide receiver coach Terence Archer to make sure he knows his assignments and has the best opportunity to perform. While there is an extensive amount of plays in basketball, football plays are more complicated. Different signals call different plays for each person on the field. He has to know which guy to block, or which route to run on every play.

“The receivers help me out a lot,” Waite said. “I’ll get put in a position that I’m not used to and I’ll be looking to the sideline where they’ll give me a signal and help me out.”

Head Football Coach Kevin Callahan has praised Waite’s ability to catch the ball early on. Still, it will take some time for Waite to get his football mentality back. Being away from the game for so long, the reaction time is lost.

“He is making progress, he is getting better, and he’s getting more comfortable with our offense, which I think is important,” Callahan said. “You can have a lot of skill, but if you’re not completely sure about what you’re doing, it can make you tentative at times. I think Ed is gradually overcoming that tentativeness.”

While he achieved success playing football in the past, revisiting the learning process is what is giving Waite the most trouble early in the spring.

“I’m still trying to adjust to the plays and find my little niche,” Waite said. “I just need to learn the plays and then I’ll be more comfortable.”

His athleticism allowed him to have a successful basketball career, and he’s hoping that will transfer to his experiences on the football field. Waite decided to take the football route for “more opportunities and more open doors.”

“He can survive on his athleticism and his ball skills,” Callahan said. “He’s got the field awareness that he had playing basketball, he just has to do it in a different way, it’s a completely different game than basketball. He’s got to bring the physicality to it and also just get more comfortable out there on the field.”

For Waite, as one door has closed, another is opening. His role won’t be decided until he’s seen the field a little more, but he’s quickly caught the eye of his coaches and is looking to continue to impress.

PHOTO COURTESY of MU Photography