Editor’s note: This continues a regular feature on DawgNation called “Throwback Thursday.” It offers the chance to revisit the recruiting stories of former UGA greats. The last few installments were on 1985 Florida game hero Keith Henderson, his 1980’s running mate Tim Worley, all-time punt returner Damien Gary and crowd favorite RB Musa Smith. This week’s feature catches up with all-time leading WR Terrence Edwards. He will be an honorary captain this weekend for the South Carolina game.
Let’s imagine one of the commitments in this year’s UGA signing class goes on to catch more passes than all but one other player in SEC history. He even becomes the SEC’s all-time leader in receiving yards.
The term “revered” would aptly describe how UGA fans should feel about him.Yet that’s not how Terrence Edwards is always viewed.
The Triple Crown winner of the UGA all-time receiving records (catches, yards and touchdowns) knows that he’s also remembered for the catch he did not make.
“A lot of people when they hear my name the first thing they think about is one dropped pass against Florida,” Edwards told the AJC’s DawgNation.com. “They don’t think about the records I set. They don’t really remember all the good things.”
Edwards was wide open but dropped a key pass against Florida in 2002. If he snares that ball, it is no stretch to say UGA goes on to win that game. That night in Jacksonville would be the only loss of an SEC championship season for a squad which finished with the No. 3 ranking.
He said he took his eyes off the ball and just didn’t squeeze it. It was a ball he knows he can catch 99 out of 100 times. Edwards said the drop still bothered him even after he left UGA.
Nobody even remembers that the drop came while UGA was leading the game. Memories are fickle like that. Ask a die-hard about Michael Johnson. That catch against Auburn is their reply. History doesn’t preserve the fact Johnson also caught 12 other balls prior to his game-winning catch that night.
Fan backlash was so polarizing over that drop by Edwards that a group of UGA fans from South Georgia saw fit to place a billboard in his hometown thanking him for his career. It labeled him as the No. 1 receiver in team history.
The only 1,000-yard receiver in UGA history is thankful for those who can also recall how his hands saved games against Clemson, Florida State, Kentucky and Purdue, among many others.
“I eventually came to the mindset that I don’t let that one catch I didn’t make define or even derail a career,” Edwards said. “I had a great career at Georgia that I am really proud of.”
Edwards will be an honorary captain at Saturday’s South Carolina game. He’s been asked to serve in that role for the last few years, but this opportunity finally feels right to him. Terrence and his wife Candace live in South Atlanta.
“It will be my first time back in the stadium for a game since the year after I left,” said Edwards, who had one NFL season and nine years in the CFL along his pro career. “… So I haven’t been back into the stadium for 13 years.”
It’s a chance for UGA fans to make amends. They should. He had never played receiver before but left the program as the all-time leader at that spot in UGA history. The two-time state champion prep quarterback learned on the fly and kept getting better, which is a good message to share with the current roster.
“I don’t know what to say to the team yet,” Edwards said. “They’ve been trying to get me to do this for the last three years, but it never worked out in my plans.”
Edwards and his wife have two boys. Terrence II, 5, is their oldest and he’s getting started with flag football. Those boys should be fine athletes, but their recruiting process will be short. .
“Their mother is a (Bulldog),” Edwards said. “Their Daddy is a Dog. Their uncle is a Dog. Their grandmother is a Dog and their auntie is a Dog. So those two don’t have any choice but to be a Dog.”
Why did he choose UGA? His older brother Robert Edwards was a star in the program. Terrence would go up to stay with his brother at times. It established a good level of comfort with the program..
He said that his path to UGA was “90 percent” a done deal because of those family ties, but there was some Auburn intrigue. Edwards looked in that direction when rumors swirled that Jim Donnan was considering a move to his alma mater to take the North Carolina State job.
“Auburn actually recruited me as well as Georgia did back then,” Edwards said. “That was Terry Bowden and Jimbo Fisher was the quarterbacks coach. Auburn was recruiting me to play quarterback and Georgia recruited me to play receiver. Coach Donnan wanted me to fill that Hines Ward role and put the ball in my hands in space and be a playmaker. As an athlete, that’s what you really want to hear when a coach is recruiting you.”
The Sandersville, Ga., native said if Donnan would have left then there was “a strong possibility” he would have signed with Auburn. Yet when Donnan stayed, it was assured he would also be at UGA.
Edwards even shined a light on an urban myth in recruiting.
“I tell people all the time in recruiting I was never offered anything by anybody,” he said. “So when they talk about people offering cars and money and all this other stuff I can honestly 100 percent say I was never offered anything by anybody even being as big of a recruit as I was. The only thing I was ever promised was by Auburn. They promised me that I was offered to strictly play quarterback.”
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.