Adams throws passes, catches big attention

Redshirt quarterback named candidate for national award after comeback win

By Peter Sowards, Senior Reporter

The expression on his face was pure surprise. A proverbial bombshell had been dropped on Vernon Adams, and the redshirt quarterback did not know how to respond.
Adams was rendered speechless when informed that he had been named as one of the 16 candidates on the initial Jerry Rice Award watch list, an honor bestowed annually to the nation’s top freshman football player in the Football Championship Subdivision.  Adams’s nomination comes after his memorable performance at Roos Field against Montana in which he threw two touchdown passes in the last 2:19 of the game, including the game-winner.
“For real?” were the first words out of his mouth after at least five seconds of silence upon hearing the news. He was quick to thank The Sports Network’s recognition of his play but said that he does not pay attention to in-season awards.
“I try not to look at myself and look that stuff up. I just want to keep winning and get wins and help this organization out and keep playing hard and do my best,” Adams said.
Head Coach Beau Baldwin joked that he would have preferred that the nomination not be made known to Adams but acknowledged his high opinion for the award.
“Why’d you guys bring that up?” Baldwin said laughing. “You don’t need to bring that up. I don’t need watch lists and all that stuff; they just need to focus on going [forward]. But it’s an honor for him and for our team and that sort of thing, but that should be the furthest thing from our mind at this point, even though I respect the award very much.”
Just three games into his career as the starting quarterback for Eastern, Adams already has a veteran mindset, moving on from the emotional high of a comeback victory at home against a big rival.
“It’s just another game,” Adams said. “I know it was a big win, a big rival game, but I just try to stay humble. The game’s in the past, we’re ready for the next time. That’s why we’re all staying grounded and ready to get another win next week.”

Adams moved on from the Montana victory, throwing four touchdowns in the first half against North Dakota on Oct. 6 and completing all but three of his fifteen pass attempts.
Coach Baldwin complimented Adams on that mindset and how he was able to stay positive in the Montana game despite facing long odds.
“Whether you’re a freshman quarterback who’s playing in your second start against Montana or whether you’re a senior quarterback who’s been through four years, you’re going to have certain times or series or plays or even quarters that just don’t go how you wanted them to or how you practice, and the worst thing you can do is get down and let it carry over,” Baldwin said. “That’s basically what Vernon was saying and staying positive with the fact that no matter what just happened, we’re going to get another series and we’re going to get it right.”
Baldwin said that Vernon’s ability to threaten defenses with both his arm and his legs is a valuable weapon to keep defenses on their toes.
“I’ve heard coordinators talk about that when they got that athletic quarterback, they can make the perfect call and sometimes they still can’t stop him on third-and-7 because the quarterback can not only just run on third down but also create a pass by scrambling,” Baldwin said. “It’s a challenge for a defense when they have to face someone who has that ability.”
Quarterbacks coach Zak Hill echoed Baldwin’s sentiments and said Adams has a very high ceiling.
“Just coming in as a freshman last year I thought he retained information very well and I think that’s why he’s so good in our offense,” Hill said. “I think that where he’s going is continuing to grow and mature and make better decisions in the game.”
After Baldwin surprisingly started Adams instead of Kyle Padron against Weber State and once more against Montana, Baldwin confirmed that Adams is the team’s starting quarterback going forward. He added that he wants all of his quarterbacks preparing like they will be starting each week.
“It’s one of those things where I know Vernon’s coming in as the starter this week barring something goofy happening out here [at practice] but I also know that I have two great quarterbacks,” Baldwin said. “Even the first two games when Kyle was starting I wanted Vernon to prepare like a starter, and I want Kyle to prepare like a starter as well, even though he knows Vernon’s coming in as the starter.”
Adams said he and Padron work together to be the best quarterbacks they can be and the somewhat nebulous quarterback situation does not bother them. All of us quarterbacks, we’re brothers,” Adams said. “We stay together and we help each other out. Whoever starts, if Kyle starts, if [Anthony] Vitto starts, if I start, we’re all going to help each other out no matter what and we’re going to stay up. Our team’s got our backs; whoever the starter is, it doesn’t really matter. We’re just going
to go out and play hard.”