Edwards leads AP FCS All-America team


NEW YORK (AP) — Armanti Edwards, Terrell Hudgins and Deji Karim, the finalists for the FCS version of the Heisman Trophy, highlight The Associated Press All-America team for Division I’s second tier.

The team was announced Wednesday.

Edwards, the Appalachian State quarterback, Hudgins, a receiver from Elon, and Karim, a running back from Southern Illinois, are up for the Walter Payton Award, which will be handed out Thursday night in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Edwards was an All-American last season, and could become the first two-time winner of the Payton award and end his career as one of the most celebrated players in the history of what used to be known as I-AA football.

Limited to nine games this season because of injuries, Edwards passed for 2,504 yards, ran for 575 yards and accounted for 26 touchdowns. The senior led the Mountaineers to the national semifinals, where they lost last week 24-17 at Montana.

"He’s really special," Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore told reporters after the game. "I’ve been doing this a long time, and he’s probably the most competitive athlete I’ve ever seen or been around."

Edwards guided the Mountaineers to consecutive national titles in his freshman and sophomore seasons and led Appalachian State to a historic victory at Michigan in 2007. It was the first time a ranked major college team had lost to a I-AA team.

"You can’t ask for much more than what we have," Edwards told reporters in Missoula, Mont. "Appalachian has three national championships. I personally have two. We won the conference every year. Of course, you want to try and win the national championship every year, but when you look back on everything you can’t ask for too much more."

Hudgins led the nation in receptions (111) and yards receiving (1,466) while breaking Jerry Rice’s Division I record for most career 100-yard receiving games (26).

Karim ran for 1,512 yards and scored 17 touchdowns.

Edwards and Karim both have teammates on the first team: Appalachian State defensive back Mark Legree and Southern Illinois linebacker Brandin Jordan.

Montana State and Weber State from the Big Sky Conference also have two players on the first team. The Bobcats are represented by offensive lineman Jeff Hansen and defensive lineman Dane Fletcher, and the Wildcats by defensive back Josh Morris and offensive lineman Kyle Mutcher.

Completing the backfield on the first team with Edwards and Karim is North Dakota State’s Pat Paschall, who led the division in rushing at 140 yards per game.

Marc Mariani of Montana is the other receiver, while Villanova’s versatile receiver Matt Szczur made the first team as an all-purpose player. The Grizzlies play the Wildcats in the FCS championship game on Friday night in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The other offensive linemen are Derek Hardman of Eastern Kentucky, Matt McCraken of Richmond and Vladimir Ducasse of Massachusetts.

Clay Harbor of Missouri State is the tight end and Matt Bevins of Liberty is the kicker.

The rest of the defensive line includes James Ruffin of Northern Iowa; Arthur Moats of James Madison; and Austen Lane of Murray State. All are up for the Buchanan Award, which goes to the top defensive player in the division.

J.C. Sherritt of Eastern Washington, another Buchanan Award finalist, and Mike Morales of UC Davis are the other linebackers.

Terrell Whitehead of Norfolk State and Charles Graves of Delaware round out the defensive backfield and the punter is Jonathan Plisco from Old Dominion, which restarted its football program this season.