Motivation was never hard to come by for Buffalo's first-round pick Tremaine Edmunds.
The youngest of three brothers, Tremaine shared a common goal with Trey and Terrell of having a professional football career. It would prove to be a natural driving force from the first time he put on a helmet. Layer in the advice from a father who had a seven-year NFL career as a tight end with a pair of Pro Bowls on his resume, and it was pretty evident to Tremaine what it was going to take to make his dream a reality.
Keep up with his older brothers.
"They're all scrappers," Ferrell Edmunds said of his three sons, Trey, Terrell and Tremaine. "They're competitive. He's no more a scrapper than the other ones. They've always been scrappers. I call my middle son the "me too" kid because whatever my oldest son did, he wanted to do it too. And then Tremaine wanted to do what the older two were doing. They pushed each other."
Ferrell Edmunds, who returned to his native Virginia after his football career was over, became the high school football coach at Dan River in Ringgold. When his three sons were young, he put them in a bunch of youth sports.
"Basically, what I did was introduce them to every sport that I thought they would like," Edmunds told Buffalobills.com. "As they got older they gravitated to the sport they thought they were best at. In high school they participated in basketball, track and football."
Pretty quickly it became evident that football would provide the best avenue for future success, but Edmunds let his sons figure it out on their own. With just four years separating oldest to youngest among the trio of brothers, one would do everything possible to outperform the others.
Photos of Bills first round draft picks QB Josh Allen and LB Tremaine Edmunds on their first day at One Bills Drive. Draft Coverage is presented by ECMC
Blessed with a lot of natural athletic ability thanks to their NFL dad, and their mother Cookie, who ran track at Southern Illinois University, the Edmunds boys all wound up at Virginia Tech in succession.
Tremaine, being the youngest, was the last one at home. With his older brothers at school improving at the college level, he felt compelled to do whatever he could to improve his own game.
So when his father would bring game film home to review for the next week's opponent, or to review his own team's performance, Tremaine would find his way into his dad's office for a look himself.
"Some days he'd come home from school and I'd be watching film at home and he'd sit next to me and watch too," said Edmunds. "At first, he would just watch himself and the things he was doing. Then he started breaking down film and watching the guys in front of him and what they might be doing wrong. So that would really enhance his game on the field, just by reviewing the game on film."
Tremaine was already reading keys thanks to his oldest brother Trey, who played linebacker in high school just like him. But Tremaine wanted to dive into the nuances of the game to prepare himself as much as possible for college ball.
When his father's NFL friends would come over to the house, he'd talk football with them. Sitting at the dinner table with his father, they would talk football. For Edmunds it almost became a second language. The result was a base of football knowledge that far exceeds that of your normal 20-year old college football prospect.
"It's because I have a good support system," said Tremaine Edmunds. "A lot of guys I know have been through that process. With a lot of those guys I can go back and get more information, so I can't thank them enough. Without them, who knows where I would be right now."
Come his freshman season at Virginia Tech, Edmunds physical abilities were so impressive they almost overshadowed his mental processing of the game. But head coach Justin Fuente recognized how Edmunds instincts and anticipation skills put him in a position to make plays.
The Buffalo Bills selected Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds with the 16th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Check out photos from his career.
"He's got the football I.Q. and mental power," said Fuente. "He's just sharp, picks things up quickly, he can do a variety of things at the next level."
Despite all the positive reviews of Edmunds football acumen, Buffalo still did their due diligence and put the young linebacker on the board more than once to see how he would call defensive fronts and make pre-snap adjustments.
"We were able to bring Tremaine in (for a pre-draft visit) and meet him at the Combine," said Bills head coach Sean McDermott. "So, we had multiple interactions with him. Part of those interactions involve going through the mental part of the evaluation."
Edmunds obviously convinced the Bills he would be up to the task.
In a little less than two weeks, the Bills second first-round pick will line up at middle linebacker at Buffalo's rookie minicamp. It's a position that carries play calling responsibilities and requires confident leadership.
That might seem like a lot for a soon-to-be 20-year old, especially knowing a good number of the most tenured players on the roster reside on the defensive side of the ball.
Ferrell Edmunds doesn't believe that will be an issue for his youngest son.
"He can handle it," said Edmunds. "He's the type of kid who would always take on challenges."
"I think Tremaine is going to grow into his role," said Fuente. "I don't think he'll walk in the door with that role, but he'll be able to handle that in time as practices go. There's no question in my mind that he'll be able to direct traffic out there."
As rich as Edmunds mind might be in football knowledge, being taught how to carry himself will take him just as far with a locker room of veterans who come this fall could be looking to him for a pre-snap check at a critical moment in a game.
"I'm a young guy, but at the same time I'm a very mature guy," Edmunds said. "I've been around older guys all my life. I know this is a different stage, but I'm a mature guy and my parents did a good job of raising me. So, I'll compete with those other guys and work for my spot and work to play my role on this team."
"We're talking about a family that goes to church, eats their vegetables and works, is on time, is respectful of everyone, just a great family," said Fuente of the Edmunds. "When you're around Ferrell and his wife, Cookie, you realize very quickly their boys grew up in a very structured, disciplined environment. They gave them the tools to go and succeed in life. They prepared them for the road, and those kids are walking down that road right now. And Tremaine is a really special person."