As the rest of his teammates filed into the locker room after practice, Gophers running back Berkley Edwards remained on the field. His work wasn't done yet.

Thwack.

The spiraling ball, fired from a passing machine, hit him in the hands. A coach loaded another football.

Thwack.

Again, Edwards made the catch, paying close attention to how the ball hit him in the gloves.

Thwack.

Edwards did this a total of 50 times. He does this routine after each practice as a way to get better at pass catching. Though a running back by trade -- and a fast one at that -- Edwards knows his best chance to compete for Minnesota this year as a redshirt freshman is to be able to get involved in the passing game.

"This spring they came to me: 'We definitely want to get you the ball more in open space,' because I have the speed and agility and stuff like that," Edwards said. "That's going to be probably most of my role this year. Just catch more balls and get better at catching them."

Edwards admits he didn't really catch many passes until his senior year at Chelsea (Mich.) High School. He was a two-sport star there, as he also was a state champion sprinter. The speed he exhibited on the track translated naturally to the football field, where he rushed for 1,329 yards as a senior. Edwards believed running track also helped him with his stamina in football. It allowed him to take the ball and run play after play after play.