Earnest Edwards of the University of Maine (center) is pictured during an October 2019 game in Orono against William & Mary. The wide receiver and kick returner ran a 4.41-second 40-yard dash last weekend at a pro day workout. Credit: Courtesy of Peter Buehner

Earnest Edwards turned in an impressive showing in the 40-yard dash at the Rochester Pro Day in New York last weekend, posting a time of 4.41 seconds.

The University of Maine’s All-America wide receiver and kickoff returner clocked a 4.44 in his first attempt and then lowered it in his second run. However, he felt a twinge in his hamstring at the end of the sprint so he didn’t participate in any more activities.

“I have always been confident in myself. I can play against anybody, big or small, it doesn’t matter. I’ve got to get the job done. I’m ready for the challenge,” the Rochester native said.

The pro day was limited to seven Rochester-area players due to COVID-19 concerns. Edwards said everyone adhered to social distancing guidelines and there was plenty of hand sanitizer.

His time of 4.41 would have been 11th fastest had he run it at the NFL Scouting Combine in March in Indianapolis.

Henry Ruggs III, a wide receiver from the University of Alabama, posted the best time of 4.27 seconds. Only one of the other 300-plus players at the combine ran faster than 4.35.

Edwards is happy with his time, which was recorded by laser, but feels he could have run faster. He said he clocked a hand-held watch time of 4.38 in Florida when he was working out in preparation for the pro day.

Edwards was quick to point out that he gained 20 pounds between the time he ran the 40 in Florida in January and last weekend’s event.

“It was a healthy 20 pounds,” said Edwards, who is up to 190 pounds. “I was eating right and lifting every day.”

He believes he needs the added weight to play at the NFL level.

“It will help me get stronger, faster and more explosive,” he said.

Also at the pro day, Edwards bench-pressed 225 pounds 14 times, registered a vertical jump of 35.5 inches and covered 9 feet, 9 inches in the standing broad jump.

UMaine’s annual pro day was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

The speedster is hoping to get selected when the NFL Draft is held April 23-25. He has hired an agent and said they have spoken to four or five teams already.

“I’d be happy if I got drafted but I’m not getting my hopes up,” Edwards said. “If I don’t get drafted, I know I can get a chance at a mini-camp somewhere, and I’m going to have to show up [and prove I can play].”

He said he is prepared to play anywhere he might be needed, including on special teams, and is confident he can play at the NFL level.

The 5-foot-10 Edwards, who is home in Rochester putting the finishing touches on his schoolwork to earn his finance degree, is coming off a memorable senior season in which he was selected to six All-America teams as a kickoff returner.

He ranked first in the Football Championship Subdivision last season with 28.5 yards per kickoff return and two touchdowns. Edwards caught 49 passes for 1,097 yards and 11 touchdowns, carried the ball 12 times for 146 yards, completed five of six passes for 61 yards and four touchdowns and returned a punt 28 yards.

His 1,863 total yards ranked sixth in the country and his average of 169.36 total yards per game was third.

Edwards was chosen the Colonial Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Year and earned All-CAA first-team honors as a wide receiver and kickoff returner.

His 99.7 receiving yards per game ranked 11th in the country and he averaged 22.39 yards per reception. He caught a pass of at least 40 yards in nine of 11 games last season.

Edwards recorded a touchdown in 18 of his last 19 games over two seasons and capped his UMaine career with a school-record 2,641 receiving yards, 2,311 kick return yards, six kickoff return touchdowns and 90 kickoff returns.

Edwards’ 143 career receptions rank 11th all time and he concluded his career with 5,436 all-purpose yards.