Originally created 09/15/03

Dantzler, Edwards still waiting for their chance



ATLANTA - For the most part, they both just stood there.

One man established records that nobody in the Southeastern Conference has ever topped. The other accumulated numbers that no player in NCAA history has ever matched.

Out here they mostly stood, two NFL scrubs whose collegiate records were deemed unworthy of being drafted. Two free agents just clinging to jobs and hoping for a chance to prove they belong.

Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler and Georgia's Terrence Edwards are on the Atlanta Falcons payroll but only barely in their gameplans. If they had such a ranking, they'd be Nos. 52 and 53 on the Falcons' 53-man roster.

Dantzler, the former Clemson quarterback, was picked up two weeks ago after being waived by the Dallas Cowboys. His top priority is to help clear the way on the kick return team for return man Allen Rossum.

"If I'm called upon, I'm ready to go. That's what it boils down to," said Dantzler, whose name is taped above his locker and not laminated.

Edwards, the former Georgia receiver, survived the final cuts to become the smallest player on the Falcons roster. His top priority seems to be waiting until enough Falcons receivers get injured that he's forced into the lineup.

"It's a little disappointing but that's the way it be sometimes," said Edwards, the only player other than each team's backup quarterback not to play in Sunday's 33-31 Washington victory over Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.

They each have the kind of collegiate credentials you'd think would be marketable as pros.

Edwards, after all, is the all-time leading receiver in SEC history with 3,093 yards at Georgia. His 204 career receptions were four shy and his 30 touchdowns one short of matching two other SEC marks.

"It doesn't mean anything," he said. "It didn't get me drafted."

Then there's Dantzler, a one-man highlight reel from Clemson. He's the only quarterback in NCAA history to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 more in the same season. He ranks eighth all-time in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total offense.

But there's little regard for 176-pound wide receivers in the NFL, and absolutely no place for 5-foot-10 option quarterbacks.

"It's frustrating after what you've done in college," Edwards said. "But that's old shop and this is a new shop. I've just got to prove myself again. I'll be out there. I don't know when, but I will be doing the same things I did at Georgia."

Dantzler will probably never do the same things he did at Clemson. But for a limited time only, he offers a skill the Falcons lack without star quarterback Michael Vick. Dantzler can step in under center in goal-line situations, providing a running threat that Doug Johnson doesn't.

Late in the first half Sunday, Dantzler made his NFL debut as quarterback with the Falcons facing first-and-goal at the 1. But his presence caused the Redskins to encroach, and he never got to take a snap as the play never counted. Johnson came back in and tossed a touchdown pass to Alge Crumpler.

Dantzler shrugged it off: "Not disappointing at all; we scored a touchdown."

Maybe it's easier for Dantzler to keep his faith because he already has his NFL Films highlight - an 84-yard, sideline tip-toeing kickoff for a touchdown with Dallas against San Francisco last December.

Edwards still hasn't made it into a real NFL game, and wearing a uniform on the sideline is not his idea of making it to the big time.

"It's not the finish for me, it's the start," Edwards said. "I made the roster and proved everybody wrong. Now I've got to give them confidence in me to put me out on the field. And when I do, I'm not gonna come out."

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.