Quarterback Armanti Edwards attempts to rush the ball against Michigan Sept. 1, 2007.
Quarterback Armanti Edwards attempts to rush the ball against Michigan Sept. 1, 2007.
Courtesy of App State Athletics

Mountaineer legend immortalized in Hall of Fame

Arguably, the most decorated player in App State football history was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame Jan. 8. Armanti Edwards set 64 program records and 14 SoCon records during his time in the High Country.

“On behalf of the entire App State family, we congratulate Armanti on this significant recognition,” said Director of Athletics Doug Gillin. “This is a well-deserved honor, and we’re excited he will be joining the other Mountaineers as members of the College Football Hall of Fame.”

Edwards attended Greenwood High School in Greenwood, South Carolina where he started as a wide receiver. Midway through his junior season, Edwards transitioned to quarterback and tallied 1,400 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. As a senior, Edwards threw for 2,000 passing yards and rushed for 1,000 yards while accounting for 29 touchdowns.

It took Edwards no time to make an impact while wearing the Black and Gold uniform as he won SoCon Freshman of the Year and first team all-conference. After 10 starts, Edwards broke every program record for a freshman quarterback. He totaled 2,251 passing yards, 1,151 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. The Mountaineers capped off Edwards’ rookie campaign with their second-consecutive national championship in 2006.

The next three seasons were what critics and fans alike expected of Edwards from week to week: greatness. 

Armanti Edwards and his family watch as his No. 14 is retired during the last game of the 2023 season Nov. 26, 2023. Edwards won back-to-back Walter Payton awards in 2008 & 2009, an honor given to the best offensive player in FCS. (Ashton Woodruff)

As a sophomore in 2007, Edwards led App State into The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan where few thought the Mountaineers from a small mountain town had a shot at taking down the No. 5 Wolverines. By the end of the afternoon, the once loud and passionate maize and blue crowd turned to pure stunned silence.

“I can remember how quiet the stadium was,” Edwards said. “Pretty much practice all summer all through camp for a loud stadium, practicing silent count. We’re not going to be able to hear each other, but once it was all said and done and we came with the victory, just hearing how silent it was.”

The 2007 season ended the same way it had in 2005 and 2006, with the Black and Gold atop the mountain. Despite missing four games due to injury, Edwards threw for 1,948 yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for 1,588 yards and 21 touchdowns.

In 2008 and 2009, Edwards won FCS National Player of the Year in addition to becoming the only two-time FCS Walter Payton Award winner, an honor given to the most outstanding offensive player. He became the FCS record holder for career rushing touchdowns at 65 and the most seasons with over 3,000 yards of total offense.

Paired with Hall of Fame coach Jerry Moore, the duo saw a 42-7 record during Edwards’ time as the starting quarterback. Edwards finished his App State career with 10,392 passing yards and 74 passing touchdowns along with 4,361 rushing yards, becoming the second Division I player to reach 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards. In 2016, Edwards was inducted into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame.

Despite numerous awards and his success while in the High Country, Edwards doesn’t think about being considered App State’s G.O.A.T.

“No, that’s definitely not for me to consider,” Edwards said. “That’s for you guys and fans. So, I do not entertain.”

After Edwards’ time wearing the Black and Gold, he was selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. At the next level, Edwards made the transition to wide receiver. After the NFL, Edwards spent time in the Canadian Football League where he won the Grey Cup as a member of the Toronto Argonauts in 2017.

Changing positions at the highest levels is an extreme challenge and Edwards was no exception.

“It was obviously hard work, hard road, starting out switching positions at the highest level,” Edwards said. “It was pretty hard to do, but as the years went on, I kind of got a feel for it. Got the right mentors in my corner and I had another opportunity to go to Canada and the CFL and continue playing wide receiver. That’s when I pretty much started to understand.”

Without those guys on the field, that wouldn’t have happened.

— Armanti Edwards

Edwards returned to Boone in the fall for the retirement of his No. 14 jersey during halftime of the Mountaineers’ matchup against rival Georgia Southern Nov. 25, 2023. 

“A very special day here at App to be able to honor Armanti Edwards and what he stands for,” said head football coach Shawn Clark postgame. “When you think of Appalachian State, you think of Coach Jerry Moore, Armanti Edwards, Dexter Coakley.”

Boone was filled with black and gold at tailgates around campus along with fans wearing No. 14 jerseys in honor of the former App State signal caller. Due to number shortages, it will be the last time an App State football player will have their jersey memorialized.

“It’s obviously a great achievement of mine,” Edwards said. “Without those guys on the field, that wouldn’t have happened.”

The weekend leading up to the ceremony was spent reflecting with some of Edwards’ former teammates making the trip up the mountain for the commemoration and the game. 

“We had a very nice dinner where I was able to see former players and guys I haven’t seen for five to 10 years,” Edwards said about the weekend. “We reminisce and talk about the good old days and see how everybody’s doing at that time. So, it’s been beyond, past my expectations.”

At halftime, it was time for the No. 14 to take its place in the rafters, or in this case the North End Zone. Edwards was joined at midfield along with his family and Moore as a tribute video played across the scoreboard. Once the video ended, the plaque was unveiled along the team facility of the North End Zone.

Edwards then said a few words to the App State faithful in the crowd.

“Thank you and go App,” Edwards said.

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