COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- You have to dig deep, real deep, for the last time Terps junior receiver Daniel Adams even registered a blip on the Maryland football radar. And that was way down in Southern Maryland in Waldorf, Charles County, during the offseason.
That was last spring, when the rarely-used and oft-injured journeyman former tight end broke out during the Terps' spring scrimmage tour at North Point High School, which to date had been his high-water mark as a Terrapin.
Adams had some six catches for 90 yards and was the best receiver on the field that day for Maryland during its annual spring road show to state high schools, but just as before, zilch since then. At least until Nov. 15 at Byrd Stadium when the former New Mexico transfer under Mike Locksley not only caught his first game reception as a Terp, but made it a keeper, a 20-yard, perfectly executed touchdown strike from C.J. Brown down the seam midway through the second quarter to pull Maryland within 9-7 to the 12th ranked Spartans before a sellout crowd eager for something, anything, positive to happen offensively.
To say Adams career has been star-crossed would be an understatement, the lone New Mexico transfer (see Deon Long, Zach Dancel, etc) to have not made any kind of impact until Nov. 15, battling position moves and a spate of injuries before getting the chance against Sparty with starter Stefon Diggs sidelined due to suspension, and most of the rest of the receiver corps suffering a bad case of the drops.
Adams, the former three-star receiver out of Dunbar (Washington, D.C.) and Northwestern (Hyattsville, Md.) high schools locally, suffered a knee injury two years ago and, among other ailments, Plantar Fasciitis in his foot this year, and was not cleared to play this season until after the Syracuse game Week Four. He had been lost in the shuffle again, and at times observers wondered aloud (and this one asked Randy Edsall in a Thursday Fireside Chat) if he was still with the club.
But the 6-2, 210-pounder with all scratches on his Maryland career stat line began to make up Nov. 15 at Byrd, grabbing the touchdown to breathe at least some life into the Terps' moribund passing game, while collecting two catches for 39 yards on a night most passes were an adventure with C.J. Brown riding the rollercoaster again.
It took a while for Adams to find the interview room at Gossett Football Team House late Nov. 15/early the next morning, but when he did he was a popular, and happy guy, despite the 37-15 loss as Maryland fell to 6-4, 3-3 Big Ten. He ran well, like a long-strider, and snatched two of the three balls thrown his way with conviction usually not seen of a guy who had been off in obscurity for the better part of three years.
Adams had his trademark 'dreds' (again, most of us hadn't seen him since the North Point scrimmage), his happy-go-lucky way, and the contagious smile again, especially when talking up the big hookup with Brown that awoke the Byrd crowd on a chilly night. He had actually moved to the Z position, (he plays the X) on the play.
"I was just waiting for my moment, and when my number gets called making a play," Adams said. "So I was happy, and C.J., he put it right on the money."
With Diggs suspended and his future still a bit uncertain due to a mid-section injury, Randy Edsall said Adams rose up the depth chart and began to make some noise during the practice week. And after Amba Etta Tawo and Marcus Leak suffered through some brutal drops against MSU, he was inserted in the game and looked like he belonged.
"I was out for four weeks, and I had to work my way back up," Adams said of the season so far. "And I did a lot of time, actually two weeks, helping the team out on scout team and just giving them looks and trying to get the team better any way I can. So the opportunity came up for me to step up and make plays for the team because you know Stefon, his situation. So I was happy to do that, and glory to God in that situation."
Of all things, it was his first Terps career reception, and for a score. Adams was supposed to draw the linebacker while MSU was buzzing on the screen, "and nobody was out there running this way. I got there and C.J. put the ball right where he needed. I couldn't believe it happened when it did," Adams said.
But Adams didn't know if the day would ever come at College Park for him.
"Nah, I didn't, and I had gotten to the point I wasn't sure if I was going to get a catch in a Terps uniform," Adams said. "But for it to happen, and get a touchdown at the same time, kill two birds with one stone, it felt great man."
Said Edsall, who wasn't doling out much individual 'sugar' after the loss to MSU, of Adams contribution:
"Again, in terms of taking a look because Stefon was suspended, we had to work in another guy at that position inside where he was playing there. And we just saw some things during practice he would be a guy that would go in and do some things for us," Edsall said. "And he did. C.J. made a nice read on that play and got the ball to the right guy. I thought Daniel did a good job when he was in there."
Brown had a rough night with three picks and a pick-six, but the connection to Adams was a beautiful fake and delivery, one of the few on the night where something offensively went right between quarterback and receiver.
"Yeah, we were driving down the field pretty good, moving the ball, had momentum, and we had the double fake screen to Daniel down the middle for a nice pass," C.J. Brown said. "So were able to put some drives together, but in the end not enough."
Added Terps sophomore receiver Jacquille Veii, who knew it was a long time coming for the affable Adams, an 'old head' on the team who finally got his shot:
"I am ecstatic for him because he has been through it all. Through camp he had the Plantar Fasciitis for the longest. Then he was down on the scout team So I am just happy that he came in and helped us out tremendously," Veii said.
On the play, Veii drew the corner and the safety didn't react quickly enough to Adams, who made a play when opportunity presented itself. It was a similar play to when Veii was the recipient of a passing score against West Virginia.
Adams said the long road has been at times "frustrating," going from tight end to receiver and then the injuries piling up.
"But one thing I know about myself is I am courageous and I don't stop fighting. I am fighter," Adams said. "So I keep bouncing back from whatever comes my way, and when challenges come I just keep fighting."
With both Wes Brown and Dancel game starters Nov. 15, the other New Mexico transplant finally got to show his stuff as well. He transferred up three years ago after Locksley arrived, but was moved two years ago from tight end, where he didn't add enough bulk or block well enough, and kind of fell off the radar up until this week. Some were shocked he even took the field, just a few plays before he delivered his big strike.
"Yeah, it seemed like it was a while ago I was there with Locksley, and he was a great dude and looking out for me, always taking care of his players," Adams said on looking back at New Mexico. "That's the one thing I know about him, he is a great guy and he gave me the opportunity to come home. And I can't say enough about him. He's a blessing to my life and I am happy to be here with him."
Adams admitted the Terps offense "is struggling right now," with the receivers needing to make more plays outside. He said he feels bad for Diggs, and was happy to see him "out there cheering us on" against MSU.He said he doesn't know his timeframe for a return yet.
Adams said he hopes his role will expand now, and added he'll just keep working hard in practice and trying to make plays when his number is called. The page now turns to Michigan, and whether Diggs will be back or not, as the Terps receivers corps looks to find any kind of rhythm after the dropped-filled night against MSU.
But in the interim, Adams looked like a solid option Nov. 15. And finally for the well-traveled Terp.
Daniel Adams Back from the Abyss
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