Adams Leaves Defenders In His Wake

Joe Adams makes it look so easy. He can burst off the line of scrimmage, catch a pass in stride, stop just as a defender is about to hit him, change direction and turn a play that might have gone for a small gain into a long touchdown.

Catch, spin, score, repeat.

Over the first three weeks of spring practice, the Arkansas wide receiver has shown that he has more spectacular moves in his repertoire than the ones he offered glimpses of as a freshman last season.

Adams has made several defenders look silly in the Razorbacks' first two full scrimmages of the spring. And his elusiveness has made coach Bobby Petrino think of new ways to get the speedy sophomore more involved in the offense.

"I feel like this has been a great spring for me," Adams said. "I mean, I got stronger and faster and my moves are a lot better than what they were last year."

Several players took turns being Arkansas' primary receiver last season, but that role often changed from game to game. This spring, however, Adams has made a strong case that he's worthy of top billing in 2009.

The Little Rock native has been the leading receiver in both of Arkansas' full scrimmages, and he has shown the type of jaw-dropping athleticism that led to Southern California making a hard push to sign him out of Central Arkansas Christian High.

"He's one of those guys where if you're in trouble, you want to go his way," said Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, who's competing to be named the starter in the fall. "You always want one of those receivers."

Adams shredded Arkansas' unproven secondary for seven catches, 153 yards and four touchdowns in an April 4 scrimmage, and he would have had more had he not dropped three passes.

The 5-foot-11, 177-pound sophomore followed that up with another big performance in Friday's scrimmage, which was moved indoors because of bad weather.

Adams beat free safety Tramain Thomas on a 36-yard touchdown catch, blew past the entire secondary on a 45-yard touchdown strike and let a third score slip through his hands when he dropped a pass at the goal line. He finished with five receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

"Well, I think the last two times we've scrimmaged we (saw) that when you get the ball in his hands, he can really make plays for us," Petrino said. "So we've got to be able to get it to him in positions where he can run, positions where he can get down the field.

"His speed is really starting to show up, but he needs to make every catch. He has a tendency sometimes to not focus, but I thought he played well (last Friday)."

Despite being one of Arkansas' four highly touted freshman receivers last season, Adams stood out among the group and showed flashes of his potential.

He scored the Razorbacks' first touchdown of the season on a 10-yard catch against Western Illinois, had a career-high seven receptions for 89 yards against Louisiana-Monroe the following week, and finished the season with 31 catches for 377 yards and one touchdown.

Adams has attracted more attention this spring.

The sophomore said he spent the offseason working in the weight room, so he could break more tackles and gain more yards after the catch. He also did some speed drills, which he feels has made him faster.

Petrino has said that Adams often looks like the fastest player on the field during practice, and the wide receiver estimated that his 40-yard dash time is in the high 4.3 to low 4.4-second range.

As for his spectacular moves after the catch, those seem to occur by accident.

"It's kind of instinct," Adams said. "When I get the ball in my hand, a lot of those moves just happen."

Joe Adams

Position: Wide receiver.

Height: 5-foot-11.

Weight: 177 pounds.

Class: Sophomore.

Hometown: Little Rock.

Notable: Adams decided to turn down Southern California for Arkansas, signing with the Razorbacks in 2008. He finished the season third on the team in receptions with 31 catches for 377 yards and one touchdown. ... He was one of only two Arkansas players who had at least one catch in every game last season. ... He also gained 46 yards on six carries and completed a 6-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Casey Dick in a 25-22 win at Auburn on Oct. 11.

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