Is Appalachian State’s Armanti Edwards a true Heisman candidate?

It was supposed to be a tune up game for Michigan – a laugher in which the Wolverines could pull their starters early in the third quarter. But Appalachian State had other plans and not only did the Mountaineers hang with the Wolverines in the opening weekend of the 2007 college football season, they beat them 34-32 in Michigan Stadium.

The Appalachian State quarterback that day was Armanti Edwards, a 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore from Greenwood, South Carolina. Edwards threw for 227 yards and three touchdowns, as well as totaling 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground. It was easily one of the best individual performances in college football last year.

In just two seasons, Edwards has led the Mountaineers to two consecutive FCS (formally Division I-AA) championships. Perhaps even more impressive than what he does on the field, is what he does off it. Not only did he graduate high school with a 3.3 GPA, but his App State bio notes that he also spends time as a volunteer with Boone Celebrity Serve and reads to area schools and day-care centers. It’s also noteworthy that when he was recruited out of high school, he spurned the chance to play for Georgia and Clemson because he had already made a commitment to App State.

As he enters his junior season, Edwards is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate. But does he have a legit chance? In the past 20-plus years, no Division I-AA/FCS has won the prestigious award.

It’s understandable that FCS players have been passed up for the award, after all, Edwards doesn’t have to face defenses like Georgia, Florida State and Tennessee like 2007 Heisman winner Tim Tebow does.

But the Heisman Trophy is supposed to be awarded to the best college football player of that season. And if Armanti Edwards is the best college football player this season, he should be awarded the trophy, regardless of what school he plays for and what defenses he faces. Just because he doesn’t get the national attention as Tebow or other big-named college football players, doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a fair shot at the Heisman. (Although if he marches his Mountaineers into Louisiana and beats No. 6 LSU on August 30, he’ll get more than his fair share of national attention.)

Will Edwards win the 2008 Heisman? Probably not – his competition for the award is steep this year with Tebow, Beanie Wells (Ohio State) and Knowshon Moreno (Georgia) all vying for the award as well, plus history isn’t on his side.

But even if I didn’t mention him in my Top 10 Heisman Hopefuls (several App State fans let me hear about it, too) I still believe Edwards at least deserves mention and even more so, deserves a legit chance because regardless of what uniform he dons on Saturdays, the kid can play. I should know – I was in attendance the day he made Michigan fans want to jump off the top row of the Big House.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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