Friday, May 15, 2009

Countdown to the Countdown: #14 (Robert Edwards)

Friday, May 29th marks 99 days until Georgia and Oklahoma State kick off their 2009 seasons in Stillwater. Leading up that date, we are counting down the Top 25 UGA football players of the past 25 seasons.

14. Robert Edwards, DB/RB (1994-1997)
  • 3rd in UGA history in career rushes per game (17.1)
  • 3rd in UGA history for average yards rushing per game (88.4)
  • Leading team rusher: 1996 and 1997
  • Team scoring leader: 1996 and 1997
  • Most points scored, single-game in UGA history: 1995 vs South Carolina (30 points on 5 touchdowns)
  • All-SEC: 1996 (AP 2nd team); 1997 (Coaches' 2nd team)

Here's another example of a player who may be higher on my list than some others would have him. This is as much based upon the potential of what Edwards would have accomplished at UGA, if it hadn't been for injuries. As a true freshman at UGA, Edwards started at cornerback, and while he struggled like many true freshmen would, you could see tremendous athleticism and talent. Prior to the 1995 season, Edwards was moved to tailback. In his first game of the 1995 season, all he did was set the all-time UGA record for rushing touchdowns in a game (5.) In his 2nd game, he was on his way to a potential SEC record-setting performance with over 125 yards rushing in the first quarter in Knoxville. But, because this was a Ray Goff coached UGA team, Edwards fell snake-bit like the rest of the roster, and broke his foot early in the 2nd quarter. He continued to play into the quarter before calling it a day, and eventually a season. UGA barely lost the game and the season continued to spiral downward from that point. In 1996, Edwards returned at tailback, and despite not getting much going until season's end, he (among others) led the Dawgs to the late season OT upset of Auburn. He was back at full strength in 1997, two of his best games coming in the memorable upset of Florida in Jacksonville, and the Outback Bowl stomping of Wisconsin.

Edwards was drafted in the 1st round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He suffered about as bad a leg injury as one could have without having to have the leg amputated, which for most players would have been career ending. Edwards made an amazing comeback with the Miami Dolphins in the early part of this decade, before joining the Canadian Football League, where he led the Montreal Alouttes in rushing for 2 consecutive seasons. Along the way, Edwards won the Football Writers of America Halas Award, in recognition of his amazing comeback from injury.

From personal experience, I can tell you that he wasn't a bad high school basketball player either.


RB said...

One of my all-time favorite UGA football memories was in 1997 when Edwards turned the corner in JAX and ran down the sidelines directly towards us in the UGA student section. We were going bonkers in that temporary section that always wobbled after every big play.

Bop said...

Yeah, tightroping the sideline in jax for the score was a great memory.

And man he was the best tailback I'd ever seen in the Tennessee game before he got hurt.