By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - They were bonded together by season-ending awards at the end of their FCS All-America careers. What Armanti Edwards and Arthur Moats didn't know at the time was how their NFL careers would begin in similar fashion.
Edwards ended his 2009 season at Appalachian State by becoming the first two- time winner of the Walter Payton Award, which honors the outstanding player in FCS. The Carolina Panthers drafted the quarterback, who was the first player in NCAA history to pass for 9,000 yards and rush for another 4,000 yards, to be a wide receiver.
After his senior season at James Madison, Moats met up with Edwards on the day he received the Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the outstanding defensive player in the FCS. Like Edwards, Moats who totaled 23.5 tackles for loss last season, has undergone a change of position with the Buffalo Bills, dropping from defensive end to inside linebacker.
"I'm in love with football, so it doesn't matter what position I'm playing. I just want to be the best at the position that I'm trying to work at," said Edwards, a third-round selection.
"It's not that tough. If you want to get on the field as quick as possible, then you would be willing to change your position."
"It's one of those experiences that you just have to learn from it," said Moats, a sixth-round choice. "You're gonna have some bumps and bruises just from the transitional process. But it's fun overall."
Edwards and Moats participated in their team's respective rookie camp after last month's draft. They are working out at the team's facilities this week, and Organized Team Activities (OTAs) are approaching soon.
Neither Edwards nor Moats has signed a contract yet, which will happen before preseason camps open in July. Right now, each is concentrating on getting acclimated to his new position.
The 5-foot-11, 182-pound Edwards, who last played wide receiver in his junior year of high school, is helped by the fact that he knows what he wanted his receivers to do while he directed Appalachian State's offense, including the 2006 and '07 FCS championship teams.
"(At) mini-camp, everything's moving pretty fast, but it's finally starting to slow down," Edwards said.
"I think I can pick up on the defensive coverages faster than most (players) transitioning to that position.
Moats got a tryout at linebacker during the Texas vs. The Nation all-star week in early February. At 6-1, 250 pounds, he can use leverage to shed blockers and tackle ball carriers.
"The transition was a little rough at first just because I haven't played standing up predominantly since high school," Moats said. "So the fact that I had to stand up, that was just a little different for me. And then on top of that, they had me at inside (linebacker) a bit, so I just changed how my eyes were as far as my keys and everything. That was a little difficult. But I definitely feel like I picked it up really well toward the end of (mini-)camp after we started watching film.
"If you're playing D-end, you always read tackle to near back, whereas at linebacker it's near back to guard. So for four years I've been told, 'Don't look in the backfield.' Now at linebacker, they say, 'Look in the backfield.' So it's one of those things that you have to break your own habits, just to get used to the new position."
Edwards and Moats were two of the 19 FCS players to be selected in the seven- round draft. Each has found the last month to be an exhilarating ride.
"I was very excited and, at the same time, relieved," Edwards said. "Being drafted is a dream come true, and I was relieved that my name was finally off the board and I knew I was going to have my new home there."
"I love the fact that everybody is that good, that it's going to bring out the best in you," Moats said. "I feel like it helps the team get better. So I definitely like that the most."