N.C. State's Russell Wilson may indeed be the best quarterback in the ACC, as my colleague Luke DeCock wrote Sunday. But he's not the best quarterback in the Carolinas.
That would be Armanti Edwards, the Appalachian State junior who just might lead the Mountaineers to a fourth straight FCS national championship.
Edwards' statistics are amazing; he's the school and Southern Conference record holder for total offense, with a current career mark of 10,457 yards. And that's with at least one more playoff game and another year to go.
Despite his mind-boggling totals, you can't sum him up with numbers.
Edwards, recruited out of Greenwood High by a number of schools to play defensive back, wanted to play quarterback. Almost everyone thought that at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds, he was too small. Appalachian gave him a chance.
Edwards has grown, he's now a legitimate 6 feet and 185 pounds. Wilson, for comparison, is 5-11 and 191, and no one says he's too small.
Edwards was, if you've forgotten, the guy who led Appalachian to its historic win at Michigan last year, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another and totaling 289 yards in Ann Arbor. He was also the guy at the controls for ASU's last two national titles.
Casual onlookers tend to think he's a running quarterback who can pass a little. Actually Edwards is brilliant in both areas; he has a strong arm and remarkable instincts—before the first of his two interceptions Saturday, he had thrown 176 passes without a pick.
And he rallied from Saturday's mistakes to throw for an Appalachian-record 433 yards in one game.
Again though, it wasn't the numbers. There was a third-and-12 play at the ASU 23, with the Mountaineers clinging to a three-point lead and their momentum dieing. Just before he was sacked, Edwards threw the ball—somehow—to receiver T.J. Courman, who caught it and wriggled to the 36 for a first down that eventually led to a score.
I've seen most of his games—either live or on TV—this season, and Edwards seems to make a similar play in just about every narrow Appalachian victory.
You think South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who could have had him, would have taken him Saturday against Clemson?
Don't be too hard on Spurrier; the other six Carolinas' BCS schools missed too.
They put him into that cornerback box, if they thought of him at all.
And I promise you, they lost a shot at the best quarterback in the Carolinas.
At any level.
- Stan Olson
Monday, December 1, 2008
Posted by Observer Sports at 8:13 PM