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By DANNY P. SMITH
Michael Edwards became a respected player on the football field for the University of North Alabama Lions.
The leading receiver in UNA history has taken the experiences into the career of law enforcement.
Edwards uses the lessons learned as a Lion to his every day responsibility as a Sergeant with the Starkville Police Department.
"There's no way that I couldn't take anything dealing with football to law enforcement," Edwards said. "The goals I set comes from being a leader and having a hard work ethic and dealing with those things, you do the same in being a police officer."
Edwards' accomplishments as a football player have caused him to be selected as one of six inductees that make up the 22nd class of the UNA Athletic Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony will take place in September at the Florence, Ala. campus.
Edwards said he was surprised upon learning he had been chosen for such an honor.
"That's like a prestigious award," Edwards said. "It made me shine a little bit."
Edwards has almost 1,000 yards more receiving than any other receiver in North Alabama history. He was a four-year starter for the Lions from 1993-96 and had 151 career catches for 2,844 yards and 20 touchdowns. Those numbers are even more noteworthy due to the fact North Alabama was primarily a running team at that time and ranked among the national leaders in rushing. His 955 yards receiving in 1994 is a single-season school record.
The West Point native was the leading receiver for the Lions in 1994, 1995 and 1996 and his eight career 100-yard receiving games is the most in school history and his four 100-yard receiving games in 1994 ties a school record. Against North Dakota in the semifinals of the 1994 playoffs, he returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and finished the game with five catches for 119 yards and another score.
Even though he experienced success at West Point High School, Edwards was taken to another level when North Alabama won three-straight national championships.
"It was something I had never experienced before," Edwards said.
Edwards was selected as a permanent team captain in 1996 and was also a first-team Daktronics All-South Region pick that same year. He was a first-team All-Gulf South Conference selection in 1994.
After his playing career was complete, Edwards was chosen for the UNA Team of the Decade from 1989-1998, made the UNA 50th Anniversary Football Team for 1949-98 and was selected to the Gulf South Conference Team of the Decade for the 1990s.
He is a 1997 graduate of UNA with a degree in Criminal Justice and worked in law enforcement for the last 13 years.
In addition to Edwards, the other members of the 2011 UNA Hall of Fame class are Rachel and Rhonda Price, coach Bobby Wallace, George Lindsey and Allen Williams.
Edwards thinks it's neat to be going into the Hall of Fame the same time as Lindsey, who also performed on the gridiron for the Lions and played the character "Goober" on the Andy Griffith Show.
"I always knew of him, but really didn't know much about him except for what I've seen on TV," Edwards said. "I can't remember what coach told us that 'Goober' had attended UNA. That was a like a laughing matter."
When the induction of the 2011 is complete, it will bring the total in the UNA Hall of Fame to an even 100.