By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
Bring up the subject, “Greatest Running Backs in University of Hawaii Football History,” and you’re bound to hear names like Gary Allen, David Toloumu, Nu‘u Fa‘aola, Heikoti Fakava, Travis Simms, Nate Iaola, Alex Green and Diocemy Saint Juste. But one RB that might slip under the radar is Anthony Edgar, who played for the Rainbow Warriors in 1981 and ’82.
The Air Force football team from that era will certainly remember Edgar. On Nov. 27, 1982, in front of 40,019 fans at Aloha Stadium, the 5’10, 180-lb. speedster set a then-WAC single-game record with 242 rushing yards, leading UH to a big 45-21 upset over the bowl-bound Falcons. Edgar tallied three TDs in that contest, including scores of 70 and 69 yards. After the game, Edgar told the Honolulu Advertiser’s Ferd Borsch, “Yes, it had to be my best game, but I really can’t take all of the credit. The offensive line gave me my chances to run.”
Edgar’s college football career actually started at UCLA. The former First-Team All-City selection at Bell High School in Bell, California joined a Bruins team that was already loaded at running back, so he switched to defensive back during his freshman season. Even then, however, playing time was scarce – the Bruins’ secondary featured future 5x NFL Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame inductee Kenny Easley – so Edgar returned to the offensive backfield. He made the most of his opportunity. Filling in for another future NFL Pro Bowl standout, Freeman McNeil, Edgar ran for 168 yards on a then-school-record 39 carries in a 1979 win over No. 20 Wisconsin.
With McNeil firmly entrenched as UCLA’s starting RB, Edgar transferred to Hawaii, who was coached by former Bruins defensive coordinator. Edgar’s half-brother, OJ Hamilton, was a receiver for the Rainbow Warriors. In accordance to NCAA transfer rules at the time, Edgar sat out the 1980 season.
Edgar’s impact as a Rainbow Warrior was immediate. In Hawaii’s 1981 season-opening win over Cal State Fullerton, Edgar ran for 112 yards and two TDs on just 12 carries. His performance included a 71-yard score in the fourth quarter. Hawaii’s starter at tailback, Gary Allen, had 108 rushing yards. Fullback David Toloumu contributed two TDs.
Allen, Toloumu and Edgar would form the greatest triumvirate of running backs on one UH team. Allen finished the season with 1,006 rushing yards and eight TDs; Edgar had 606 yards and eight TDs; and Toloumu recorded 372 and five TDs. The 1981 team would start the season 7-0 and earned the program’s first-ever national ranking before falling to BYU in a nationally televised game. Hawaii finished the season 9-2, and Edgar earned All-WAC Second Team honors.
Although he played behind Allen, Edgar never expressed bitterness or frustration. In an interview with the Honolulu Advertiser’s Ferd Lewis, Edgar said he appreciated both Allen and Toloumu. “I really learned a lot from those guys,” he said. “Watching the things they did and how they did them helped me.”
The next season, with both Allen and Toloumu playing in the NFL, Edgar finally had the lead RB role all to himself. He finished the year as UH’s leading rusher (900 yards, 4.5 ypc) and repeated as an All-WAC Second-Team selection.
In his two seasons as a Rainbow Warrior, he compiled 1,545 rushing yards (4.8 ypc) and 16 TDs. His 73.6 rushing yards per game ranks him fourth on Hawaii’s all-time list, behind only Larry Sherrer, Allen and Jamal Farmer.
Edgar would be drafted in the seventh round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.