When you come out of the junior college ranks, the expectations are obvious. You are recruited to play. You aren't a project or a developmental player that has the raw ability to work your way into a system over a period of time given the right coaching and conditioning. You are supposed to be able to come in ‘right now' and compete for one of the top jobs.
Adams, even though he's just a year of experience into and now, out of junior college, he expects to live up to those typical expectations. He wants to play and the road he sees as the one he must travel isn't a couple years long or even down the road a season, but his sights are set on getting his chance his first year there. "You want to play." Jordan said. "You go in there knowing that you weren't recruited to sit on the bench. There's no reason to even go if you aren't going to try for the top once you arrive."
That's all well and good to say, but for some that could be highly unrealistic. Joe Ganz might have to acclimate to the system while Beau Davis might have to acclimate to the training table, Davis in dire need of putting on some weight. Jordan though coming from close to a carbon-copy of what Callahan plans to run in Nebraska and standing 6'4" and weighing over 200 lbs., he feels that he might be as close to what's needed as anyone right now. "I think I have an edge right now." Adams stated. "The offense I came from and have basically been running my whole career is what they are going to run there. Plus, the year I had in junior college I think gives me a slight experience edge at least on those just coming in."
Jordan's experience at the Junior College level was valuable, but not ideally the type of experience he wanted. Point of fact, Jordan started just one game as a second-string quarterback for Grossmont JC. Playing behind a veteran of that particular level, Adams knew that his time was limited, so he was going to have to take advantage of what opportunities he had.
And boy, did he.
Adams getting one start, that coming the final game of the year managed to put an exclamation behind his ability that was touted, but obviously not utilized to a great extent. Adams lone appearance saw him throw for a school record 531 yards, completing 32 of his 40 passes, 4 of those going for scores. This was to rally his team from almost 20 points down, edging Antelope Valley in the end, 52-49.
That wasn't Jordan's first experience however at having to create a comeback. Adams led his high school team back from a 21-0 deficit in the state title game to actually take the lead, but still ultimately lost as his team gave up a late score to seal the game for good.
Jordan doesn't regret that game though because it still ranks as the best experience he has had thus far. "That was the biggest game of my life." Adams said. "You are down, everything is riding on what you and your offense can do, moments like that are what you live for."
Jordan himself idolizes a couple of quarterbacks, one in particular that wasn't too bad in the clutch himself. "John Elway is definitely one of the guys I have followed." Adams stated. "I actually met him once and Dan Marino, so those are the two I probably have followed the most."
Marino's quick release, Elway's apparent consonance for the comeback, both abilities that Jordan admired and aspired to have. Of course, it's not that easy as each has shown despite their amazing careers. Something Jordan has appreciated during his brief career. "It makes you what you are." Jordan said of certain situations during a game. "How you get rid of the ball, how you manage a game down the field, the situation can give you opportunities, but you have to take advantage of them when they are there."
Again, it's not usually that simple. Pressure is a funny thing. When a player is bearing down on you or it's the clock that's fighting you tooth and nail, victories can easily become losses not just on a series of plays, but one. I harkened back to a story told of Joe Montana as he drove against Cincinnati for the game-winning touchdown in his first Superbowl. A story that went something to the effect that in the midst of the huddle as time was short, opportunities few and pressure was at it's maximum, Montana took time to notice a fan in the stands eating popcorn, voicing a question to a teammate as to whether or not that was the actor, John Candy.
Can you imagine that? Can you even comprehend that kind of mental toughness it takes to have that almost incomprehensible poise in what must be one of the most intense sports situations around? Adams can, if to a somewhat lesser degree. "In our state title game, we are down like 21-0." Jordan said. "We didn't end up winning, but we came back to take the lead. My teammates were commenting on how I was smiling and all that in the huddle, but I'm not the kind of guy that can't have fun in a situation like that because that's when it's the most fun."
"You live for those moments, so you have to enjoy them when they happen."
Adams is hoping for a few of those moments at Nebraska as he hopes to lead the Huskers out onto the field for a little collegiate warfare. And while he's been used to waiting for his turn on the sidelines in the very recent past, Adams states that he's going to do all he can to make his sideline sabbatical as brief as possible. "I know I have to earn what I get." Jordan said. "I know that whatever I want to achieve, I have to go out there and bust my butt for, but if I didn't believe I could do it, I wouldn't be going to a place like Nebraska."
Ahh, Nebraska. Where the beef is the best and the running game, ferocious, physical and relenting. Oh, excuse me. That WAS Nebraska. This is the new Nebraska, where west coast goes midwest, receivers actually run well orchestrated routes and four passes in a row doesn't mean you are down by twenty.
It's a Nebraska that caters to someone of Jordan's abilities, but even if his fellow QB pledges of the Nebraska class of 2004 don't make an early impact, there's at least one signal caller that plans to make Jordan's goal difficult if not impossible to get.
You have to feel a bit for Joe Dailey. He was recruited into an option offense, was slowly and somewhat frustratingly segued into a more balanced offense but still heavily utilizing the patented option and now, west coast style meats east coast kid and he's having to learn everything all over again.
If not for the fact that Dailey took any snaps at all last year in actual Division 1 play, you might almost be willing to give the job to Adams if only for his experience in this new-fangled attack. And let's face it, Joe's 74 completions his entire year of senior high school ball is just 10 over double what Adams did in a single game. Yards? Dailey's 1,378 yards in 11 games, Adams 531 in 1.
Yeah, advantage Adams.
What's keeping Dailey still in the mind as a probable starter is that he's here, something Adams won't be until May. Another is that yes, though Dailey saw minimal use last year, it was some and that's more than what Jordan has seen against college's toughest division.
What's also keeping Adams from at least the theoretical two-deep on Nebraska's first depth chart in the fall is reality itself, a mind-set Jordan himself fully realizes. "I may know the offense a little better than some, but I don't know any of the players." he said. "I have to learn about everything as well and he (Dailey) is going to have the same coaches I have."
"These are guys that were in the NFL or are really good at their job, so everyone at the position is going to learn what everyone else does. Coming in with some knowledge is good, but by Fall, we might all know exactly the same."
I once asked Joe Dailey as he was in somewhat the same boat as Adams is now. No, the change wasn't as dramatic, but everyone knew that however subtle, the offense was supposed to change. Something more akin to what Dailey was accustomed, something he ran himself. When I talked to Joe before he stepped on campus about what he thought his chances were to unseat heir apparent, Jammal Lord, he put it fairly plain. "I'm not going to Nebraska to be second string." Joe said. "I'm going there to play."
Adams agreed with that sentiment whole-heartedly. "If you aren't competing to play, you aren't competing at all." he said. "I have a lot I need to learn. I have a lot of things I can do better than how I do it now. I know how to be supportive of the team and wait my turn, but if I want that turn, I have to take it."
"You can't be willing to wait. The coaches expect me to compete right away, that's what I expect and that's what I plan to do. You appreciate being a starter, because it takes a lot to get there. If it didn't take your best, it wouldn't mean anything. That's what makes it special."
And what of a possible impending QB controversy? "I've been a part of that at Grossmont." Jordan said. "People said this or that, but you respect the coaches for knowing who should be out there. They know who should be number one."
"I'm just going to try my hardest to make sure it's me."
Steve Ryan can be reached at email@example.com or 402-730-5619