KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It isn’t hyperbole or an overstatement or just a product of being in the stadium when it happened: South Carolina’s Bryan Edwards made the catch of the year on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.
With 20 seconds to go in the second quarter of SC’s matchup against Tennessee, the Gamecock senior climbed the proverbial ladder and, with his right paw alone, plucked a Ryan Hilinski pass out of the misty air. With his left arm rested on cornerback Shawn Shamburger, Edwards leaped and snagged the ball, ala Odell Beckham Jr., with his right arm fully extended behind his head.
Edwards fell backward onto the front right pylon of the end zone before a referee threw up two arms to signal a touchdown. The senior then sprinted toward the South Carolina sideline, where he leaped into the chest of Gamecock offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, pumped his right arm, made a “let’s eat” gesture and screamed with excitement in the face of R.J. Roderick.
“I got a bad release, so I was just trying to go and make a play and not let a guy widen me out of bounds,” Edwards said. “Ryan threw a great ball and I went up and made a play.
“I wish I would have scored.”
Nonetheless, Edwards called it “one of the more exciting” catches he has had in his career.
Added Gamecock running back Tavien Feaster, “The catches I’ve seen, that’s probably number one. Guys were draped all over him. The guy was desperate. He went up with one hand and makes an incredible catch. Just a guy that’s desperate to make a play for his team.”
The sensational catch was eventually ruled short of the end zone, but it remained a catch, and with it Edwards tied Kenny McKinley on South Carolina’s all-time receptions list. Just over three minutes of game time later Edwards moved into first with his 208th career catch.
The 5-yard catch also moved him into second place on the school’s all-time receiving yards list.
“That’s as good of a catch I’ve seen,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said. “Double coverage. They had a bracket coverage. … We didn’t have the draw [run], so Ryan went outside to give Bryan a chance, and he put the ball in a good spot.
“Bryan made a great play.”
GOODNESS, Bryan Edwards.— Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) October 26, 2019
This has to be a candidate for Catch of the Year so far. pic.twitter.com/lsGjUNiVZB
Two plays after the aforementioned highlight-reel grab, Feaster burst up the middle for a touchdown to give the Gamecocks (3-5, 2-4 SEC) an eventual four-point lead in its 41-21 loss to the Volunteers (3-5, 2-3 SEC).
It was a record-breaking day for the 6-3, 215-pound Edwards, who finished with eight catches for 83 yards.
“It’s a great feeling,” Edwards said. “Anytime you can beat a record that was put there by guys like [Sterling] Sharpe and Alshon Jeffery… I still want to win [games] and I still want to break the rest of those records.”
Edwards now ranks first in catches (211) and second in receiving yards (2,816), 226 yards behind Jeffery. He’s third in touchdown catches (20), three behind Jeffery and Sidney Rice.