Terrence Edwards’ lifetime body of work as a collegiate and professional wide receiver accounts for 11,050 yards – more than six-and-a-quarter miles that would cover the distance to and from his childhood home in Tennille, Ga., to Washington County High School.
More fittingly, Edwards’ numbers should be converted to 10.10 kilometers since the all-time leading receiver at Georgia is finally getting duly recognized for his standout career this week – in Canada.
At a gala dinner Wednesday, Edwards will be inducted into the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hall of Fame. On Saturday he’ll be honored again at the Hall of Fame game when the Blue Bombers play host to the B.C. Lions.
“It’s an honor and blessing,” said Edwards, who currently serves as an assistant coach at Pace Academy and runs his own wide receivers training academy in Atlanta. “I think every athlete would like to get recognized for their contributions on the field. … Not in my wildest dreams did I think a little kid from Tennille, Ga., out of Washington County High School would be inducted into anyone’s hall of fame.”
Edwards certainly had no idea his dreams would take him to Manitoba and he wasn’t sure what he’d find once he got there.
“I tell people all the time, from reading kids’ books, I thought Canada was made of ice and igloos, and everybody had a penguin for a friend,” Edwards said with a laugh. “So I didn’t know much about it, but glad God blessed me with an opportunity to go be in that Canadian community for nine years. My kids can honestly say they lived in a different country for a few years. It was a great experience for me and my family.
“Winnipeg is really no different than Athens to me. It’s not too big or too small and they love their Winnipeg Blue Bombers just like Athens loves the Georgia Bulldogs. It was a perfect fit for me.”
Like any young football star, he aspired to play in the NFL and he got the chance briefly as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2003. But his NFL ledger consists of one reception for 10 yards, one punt return and one special teams tackle. When he was cut by the Falcons before the 2004 season, he found his way to the Canadian Football League, stopping in Toronto and Montreal before finding his place in Winnipeg.
“I got a taste of (the NFL), but going up to the CFL as a receiver is a dream come true because they throw the ball so much, had more space to go out and work your magic, and you get to move before the ball is snapped,” he said. “So there’s a lot of things you can do as a receiver to be successful.”
His nine-year CFL career included 508 receptions for 7,637 yards and 47 touchdowns – 7,200 of those yards in seven seasons with the Blue Bombers that ranks fourth in the 87-year franchise history. He played in three Grey Cup championships and was a two-time CFL All-Star.
Edwards was a star quarterback at Washington County, and he seriously considered accepting offers from Auburn and Nebraska to stay in that role. Considering his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame, he decided there might be a better future converting to receiver at Georgia.
That decision worked out well. At the end of his Bulldogs career in 2002, Edwards owned the Southeastern Conference record for receiving yards (3,093) and ranked second in receptions (204). He still holds the receiving records at Georgia and is the only Bulldog to have a 1,000-yard receiving season when he finished with 1,004 as a senior.
“I’m gonna be honest, a lot of people say records are made to be broken, but I don’t want mine to be broken,” he said. “I want to stay the all-time leading receiver. I tell people all the time I think A.J. Green is the best receiver to ever come out of Georgia, but I’m the all-time leading receiver at Georgia.
“Some day it’s gonna come down, just like I broke Brice Hunter’s record,” Edwards added of the former UGA leader who was killed in 2004. “I knew him personally, God rest his soul. I think if somebody had to break his record, I think he was happy it was me, as somebody he watched grow from a little boy to a grown man. At some point, those records will fall and hopefully I’m here to congratulate the person who does it. If one of the guys I tutor and train goes on to break my record, that would be ideal.”
For all of his great performances and 30 touchdowns at Georgia that culminated in an SEC championship and Sugar Bowl victory, Edwards is oftened remembered by Bulldogs fans for the one catch he didn’t make against Florida in 2002. Trailing 20-13 with 2:23 left, David Greene lofted a deep pass to a wide-open Edwards at the Florida 35. He left his feet to reach for the ball, but it hit both his hands and fell incomplete on the turf. Edwards popped up off the ground, holding both hands in the air in disbelief and then covered his head with them.
Three plays later, the Bulldogs turned it over on downs with 1:41 left and suffered their only loss of a 13-1 season when they couldn’t rally on their final possession with 35 seconds left. In a game that included a pick-six Gator touchdown thrown by D.J. Shockley, two missed field goals by Billy Bennett and 0-for-13 by UGA on third downs, it is Edwards’ rare drop that still gets remembered most.
“It bothered me because it’s just a ‘what if?’” Edwards said. “That’s the only game we lost and it wasn’t the sole reason we lost, but what if we’d won? We might have had a chance to play for the national championship. That’s the only thing that bothers me about it. … But I’m not going to let one catch – or one missed catch – define my career at Georgia.”
He believes most Georgia fans feel the same way and remember his senior class for restoring the Bulldogs’ football glory.
“There’s some people always bring up that game and that catch I didn’t make … but I don’t let it bother me because I know I helped that program in a lot of ways and I was part of the team that started getting Georgia back to where it’s always should have been as one of the elite programs in the country,” he said. “So I feel like the true diehard Georgia fans and people around the program understand my legacy, and what I meant to the program. We were the first team in 20 years to bring the SEC championship back to Georgia and I was a part of it – a big part of it. That’s what I remember and what I take from that senior class of myself, Boss Bailey, Tony Gilbert, George Foster, Jon Stinchcomb – we would love to have left as national champs, but we left 13-1 as Sugar Bowl champs and I think we helped reignite that program to where it is today. You can’t leave Georgia or any program in any better shape than we did.”
Georgia’s most prolific receiver sees a lot of similarities between that 2002 Bulldogs to the current team that’s 5-0 in the second season under Kirby Smart.
“That’s a good comparison, we started off slow (8-4 in 2001), but each game we got better,” Edwards said. “I can see them doing a lot of the same things we did in the second year under coach (Mark) Richt.”