Bryan Edwards ready to rewrite South Carolina football history

South Carolina receiver Bryan Edwards enters his senior season ranked fifth in program history in career catches and sixth in career receiving yardage.

SOUTH CAROLINA

› Last season: 7-6 (4-4 SEC)› 2019 opener: Aug. 31 vs. North Carolina in Charlotte (3:30; ESPN)› Fun fact: South Carolina has been to 12 bowl games in the last 14 seasons after making just three bowl trips during its first 13 seasons as an SEC member.› Coming Thursday: Texas A&M

South Carolina receiver Bryan Edwards isn't just a top offensive weapon heading into his senior season.

He's also an unofficial Gamecocks historian.

Williams-Brice Stadium this season will house the two programs - Alabama and Clemson - that are dominating college football. Clemson and South Carolina are in-state rivals that first met in 1896 and have played annually since 1909, but Sept. 14 will mark the first Alabama-South Carolina game since 2010.

The game nine years ago also took place in Columbia, with Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks stunning Nick Saban's No. 1 Crimson Tide 35-21.

"I remember Marcus Lattimore and Stephen Garcia, and I remember Alshon Jeffery's one-handed catch with a guy draped all over him," said Edwards, who was 11 at the time. "I'm a South Carolina kid. I remember it like it was yesterday.

"That game sort of set the state of South Carolina on fire, and I would love to do that again this year."

South Carolina was nearly flawless offensively during Alabama's last visit, with Garcia completing 17 of 20 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns and with Jeffery hauling in seven receptions for 127 yards and two scores. That aerial duo was complemented by Lattimore, who rushed 23 times for 93 yards and reached the end zone twice.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Edwards has size and strength similar to Jeffery, who was 6-4 and 229 pounds when he played for the Gamecocks, and his career totals could be second to none here in several months.

"Bryan Edwards probably should have every receiving record there is at the University of South Carolina after his senior season," South Carolina fourth-year coach Will Muschamp said at SEC Media Days. "When you think about some of the elite players that have played the receiver position at South Carolina, that's some pretty high company."

Edwards, a 2016 in-state signee out of Conway, compiled 55 catches for 846 yards and seven touchdowns last season and enters his final go-around with 163 career receptions for 2,229 yards and 16 scores. His reception total is fifth in South Carolina history behind Kenny McKinley, Jeffery, Sterling Sharpe and Zola Davis, while his receiving yardage ranks sixth.

His numbers through the first three years have been attained while playing with Deebo Samuel, who is among South Carolina's top 10 in catches and receiving yards. Samuel was a second-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers this past spring.

"Obviously it's exciting to have the opportunity to break a lot of records this year," Edwards said. "Deebo is gone this year, and I'm going to be the No. 1 guy, but I'm treating it just like he was still here. I've always seen myself as a 1A or 1B receiver, so nothing is really changing for me.

"I'm my own person. Deebo could do a lot of things that I couldn't, and I can do some things that he can't. I've just got to be the guy I know I can be."

To have a chance against Alabama and Clemson and everybody else on a schedule that contains trips to Georgia and Texas A&M, the Gamecocks must be stout consistently on offense with the senior trio of quarterback Jake Bentley, running back Rico Dowdle and Edwards. Bentley threw for 510 yards and five touchdowns during a 56-35 loss at Clemson last November, but he managed just 218 yards and was intercepted twice in a 28-0 Belk Bowl loss to Virginia.

The Gamecocks were 7-6 last season, which was widely viewed as a disappointment following the surprising 9-4 run in 2017. That nine-win season was capped by a comeback triumph against Michigan in the Outback Bowl.

Edwards was asked at SEC Media Days whether he wanted the school records or more wins this season.

"I want both. I'm greedy," he said. "I'm a competitive guy, so I want those records. When we win games, the records and the stats are going to come. My main goal is to win games.

"If you don't have the wins, what do the records mean? We want to win meaningful games."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.