The first day of December brought a Catholic Red title. The 13th signaled an end to that draining process known as big-time recruiting.

Jewhan Edwards, a two-time first-team Daily News All-City defensive lineman for Roman Catholic High, last night made an oral commitment to two Minnesota assistants who were visiting his North Philadelphia home.

Edwards also trekked to West Virginia and was slated to check out Syracuse.

"Minnesota's a good school, plus it's in the Big Ten," the 6-2, 320-pound Edwards said. "And I didn't want to play in that 3-3-5 defense West Virginia uses.

"I'm feeling relief that this is all over. I knew I was going to tell them tonight. I just didn't tell them ahead of time. When I did, they were all excited."

Tim Cross and John Butler were the Gophers assistants who visited Edwards and his mom, Vanessa. Butler is a La Salle High product.

"John is good friends with Brian Conroy," said Roman coach Jim Murphy, referring to his defensive coordinator. "If I remember, Brian was the best man at John's wedding. That relationship helped Jewhan's comfort level with Minnesota.

"I kind of thought Jewhan would get this over tonight. He was leaning hard to Minnesota, though, in another sense, he wanted to make sure he wasn't just jumping at something. After a while, all of this does get to a kid. Just getting the 5 billion phone calls is rough."

Murphy said Edwards is being eyed as a 2008 starter.

Might he someday play for pay?

"If he plays his cards right, he might be trumping all of us in salary," Murphy said, laughing. *