Troy Edwards
Troy  Edwards


Hall of Fame Feature: Pat Tilley

Former Bulldog wide receiver uses blue collar mentality in college, NFL


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It was one of those games any college football fan will remember the rest of their lives.

And for Louisiana Tech fans, it’s one of their best memories of all time coming in a nationally-televised game to open the 1998 season.

The numbers still speak for themselves: 21 receptions for 405 yards against defending national champ Nebraska — still the most receiving yardage ever in a single NCAA game.

Tech wideout Troy Edwards would go on to end his collegiate career with some of the more impressive receiving numbers of all time — 280 catches for 4,252 yards and 50 touchdowns. He had 140 catches for 1,996 yards and 27 scores during his senior season alone.

Those numbers are easily good enough to grab Edwards a spot in the Louisiana Tech University Sports Hall of Fame, to which he will be inducted at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 24 in the Thomas Assembly Center’s Waggoner Room along with fellow former Tech football standout Bob Brunet, former Dunkin’ ’Dogs great Mike Green, former Lady Techsters’ hoops standout Nora Lewis and former Bulldogs’ baseball star Charlie Montoya.

There’s no question Edwards turned in a stellar collegiate career, but it’s that one game Tech Nation especially remembers. Current Tech receivers coach Tim Rattay was the quarterback for the Bulldogs that incredible day against Nebraska and still vividly remembers the game.

“It was the first game of the year my junior year and Troy’s senior year,” Rattay said. “We had a good season the year before and had worked hard, two or three hours a day out there throwing, all summer long. We both wanted to play on that big stage in that kind of game. Nebraska had three or four defensive backs on that team who went on to play in the NFL. Troy shredded every one of them, whether it was deep, short or even running the ball.

“We lost, so I think what all had happened was kind of lost at first. We went into every game, including that one, believing we were going to win. So we were down after it was over. But the next morning we started paying attention and starting realizing just how historic it all was.”

Edwards, never one to lack confidence, said that heading into that game being played on a national stage, he was going to have a big day.

“I talked about it leading into the game — I knew that I couldn’t be stopped,” Edwards said. “I knew that with the quarterback I had, and the offensive coordinator I had, I couldn’t be stopped. Tim and I had watched a lot of film before that game and we were ready.

“But I still didn’t know until after the game the numbers were that big. I didn’t have a clue. But all the other (Tech) receivers played a big part in that, because they showed they had to be covered, too. And the running backs, offensive line and Tim. That was a team effort — I couldn’t have done it without them. Do you know the sacrifices those other receivers made running their routes knowing the ball was probably going to go to me?”

It took a team effort to get Edwards to Tech as then Bulldogs head coach Joe Raymond Peace and assistant coach Pat Tilley, a Tech Hall of Fame receiver himself, recruited the young player out of Shreveport’s Huntington High School.

“Pat Tilley and I spent several nights over in Shreveport recruiting him,” Peace said. “As a high school player there were so many positions where he could help you — cornerback, running back, wide receiver. He had that ability to be a special player in whatever he did, special teams and returns included. He could do it all. I was really looking at him as a running back when I recruited him.

“There’s no question he’s of the best receivers to come out of Louisiana Tech and to ever play college football in general. We were fortunate to get him. Everybody wanted him, not only Louisiana schools but on a national level. There was never any doubt he would succeed.”

But for a short while, Edwards admits to some doubts. At least by his standards. After only making 38 catches for 649 yards and 10 touchdowns during his first season on the collegiate field, Edwards said he wanted a change.

Fortunately that change came, but not in the way Edwards first wanted. Instead it was in the form of Rattay joining him as a Bulldog.

“People don’t realize how much time we spent together,” Edwards said. “That’s why he’s still one of my best friends in life. I was talking about quitting football totally, or at least moving back to running back, and Tim is the one who told me I was going to be a receiver regardless. I wanted the ball and a running back gets more touches. Tim helped me through that. He’ll always be a special person in my life.”

Edwards went to be the 13th overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He finished his NFL career with 203 catches for 2,404 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven seasons playing for the Steelers (1999-2001), St. Louis Rams (2002), Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-04) and Detroit Lions (2005).

He also played against his old teammate Rattay a few times in the NFL.

“I played against him a couple of times (in the NFL),” Rattay said. “It was always great getting to see and talk to him before the games and whenever it happened, that game was always marked on the calendar to look forward to.”

Rattay also thinks Edwards could have put up bigger NFL numbers in a different day and age.

“With all the spread offenses out now and the way NFL teams throw the ball these days, I think you could put in the slot and watch him post much bigger numbers now than he did back then,” Rattay said.

These days Edwards spends his time in the Dallas area, working what he calls “a basic school district job” and helping his sons Troy Jr. and Tru, with their football skills.

“They already know the game a lot more than I did at their age because I’ve been able to teach them,” Edwards said. “One is a (high school) freshman and the other is in junior high. I’m so proud of them and so proud they’re going to see me get this honor at Tech. I’ve seen what has been happening there and it is so impressive.

“I always wanted to be there in the Tech Hall of Fame, but you never really think that it’s going to happen. It’s so special for me.”

One special last grab Edwards is making for the Bulldogs.

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