Tom Sorensen

Legend of former Appalachian star Armanti Edwards gets another shot at a happy ending

Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Armanti Edwards has another chance to give his legend a boost, in the Canadian Football League.
Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Armanti Edwards has another chance to give his legend a boost, in the Canadian Football League. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Saw that the Saskatchewan Rough Riders traded Armanti Edwards to the Toronto Argonauts, and thought, good.

Good that Edwards, 29, still is still playing football. Good that the Canadian Football League’s premiere franchise, the Canadian Dallas Cowboys, wanted him.

The legend of Armanti Edwards goes like this.

He was a passing, running, leading, winning quarterback at Appalachian State, and behind him the Mountaineers won two FCS championships.

Edwards has good genes. He comes from Greenwood, S.C., the town that gave us former Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall. (Ohio State needs a coach. Marshall will be mentioned prominently because, when a major program needs a coach, Marshall always is.)

The Panthers took Edwards in the third round of the 2010 draft. I remember him at the first practice of rookie camp. The Panthers had drafted Jimmy Clausen to play quarterback. Edwards, the perfect college quarterback at Appalachian State, was being converted to wide receiver.

Clausen attracted a crowd. Edwards attracted me. He said he didn’t care about the lack of attention, which was true, and didn’t care about moving from quarterback to wide receiver, which might have been true.

I thought Edwards would work out for the Panthers, that the qualities that made him special in Boone also would make him special 100 miles southeast in Charlotte.

Edwards had moments. At training camp in 2013, I asked Carolina coach Ron Rivera to name his Spartanburg MVP. I asked the question every camp. Rivera said Edwards.

In unrelated news, Rivera’s training camp MVPs usually are jettisoned within three seasons. I might ask him again this summer. If you’re a player, and Rivera says your name, don’t buy. Rent.

Edwards had not played receiver since high school, and he was competing against players who had spent their college years running routes. Edwards worked. He wanted to be good.

But changing positions in the NFL is tough, and he never could dislodge the receivers in front of him. The Panthers released him in 2013. The Cleveland Browns picked him up and released him. He was a Chicago Bear for two months.

Chicago’s head coach, Marc Trestman, now has the same job with Toronto. (Trestman also was an offensive coordinator at N.C. State.)

To acquire Edwards in 2010, the Panthers gave New England a second-round pick in 2011. New England’s pick turned out to be the first pick of the second round.

Because he failed to become a star, the Panthers were criticized for trading up to take Edwards, and Edwards was criticized for being Edwards.

Edwards is a nice guy, quiet, and was popular with his Panthers’ teammates. So: Next up, Toronto.

The Argonauts of Greek mythology came to a good ending. This is how it should be with legends. Hope Edwards gets one, too.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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