As recruits filed into the Kenan Football Center for North Carolina's exclusive junior day, Deke Adams scanned the crowd of blue-chippers in search of defensive line prospects. While browsing, Adams couldn’t help occasionally fixating on a very familiar face.
Adams, UNC’s defensive line coach, has known this familiar face since birth and watched him mature the past 17 years into a 6-foot-2, 175-pound wide receiver. Now, Adam's youngest son - Jordyn Adams - is a UNC recruit.
"To be able to watch either one of my sons be in one of those situations, it was surreal," Adams said. "For most of that day, I was running around recruiting defensive linemen and the other kids that were there that are in my area. And then, [Jordyn] is there. While I'm recruiting [my recruits], I tried to take maybe two or three minutes to slide away and be [Jordyn's] dad and then go back to recruiting.
"It was a unique moment to watch [Jordyn] put [jerseys and equipment] on just like the other recruits. I enjoyed recruiting the other recruits and sliding away and spending some time with him. It is different, because if we were to go somewhere else then I'd be with him the whole time."
Adams first realized that Jordyn had a real chance of being a major FBS recruit midway through his sophomore season, even though he had yet to hit his stride.
"I started to see him make some plays on the field with the ball in his hand," Adams said. "A lot of times as a father, you look at your kid and you really don't see some things that other people see. So, a lot of people saw things earlier than I did.
"I know at one point they played him on the defensive side of the ball. And I used to joke with him all the time and tell him, 'Hey, you tackle like Deion Sanders, so I don't know how long you're going to stay on that side.'"
Fast forward a year and a half and Jordyn is a four-star wide receiver with nearly two dozen scholarship offers. UNC -- as well as Alabama, Clemson, LSU, and Ohio State -- is among his tenders.
Amid Jordyn’s recruiting ascent, Adams left East Carolina’s coaching staff in January to once again become UNC’s defensive line coach. The move created a rare conflict of interest for Adams.
"The No. 1 thing is, I don't recruit [Jordyn]," Adams said. "I'm his dad and that's one thing that has been talked about -- I'm his dad and I need to be his dad. I need to be here when he has questions about things, as far as schools. I need to be here for him when he just needs to vent his frustration when it comes to recruiting.
“But as far as the ins and outs of North Carolina being the best place, that's something I don't do, because -- like I said -- I'm his father and that's who I need to be."
Tossing the recruiter hat aside in favor of his father cap hasn’t absolved Adams from being in compromising situations.
"The unique part about it is being able to sit in on meetings and hear other people talk about [Jordyn]," Adams said. "And then hearing other coaches that I've known for years talk about some of the things he's done."
Under normal circumstances, Adams only speaks up during UNC's recruiting meetings when either a prospect in his territory is brought up or a D-line recruit is being discussed. Fortunately, Jordyn attends a high school, Morrisville (N.C.) Green Hope High, located within fellow Heels’ assistant coach Terry Joseph’s territory. And Gunter Brewer coaches Jordyn’s position at UNC.
“Those guys do a great job,” Adams said. “They communicate with him on a regular basis. It's a really good situation -- it's a situation where I can sit back and just be his father and help him in a lot of different aspects."
As UNC’s exclusive junior day on March 4 illustrated, when Jordyn visits Chapel Hill as a recruit, it places Adams in a unique position.
"I'm not going to ask questions [at UNC], because I know the answers," Adams said. "As we start to get ready to narrow things down, that would be my time to talk to him about what North Carolina has to offer.
“And then on the other hand, Coach Brewer and some of the other coaches are doing that more than I am. If [Jordyn] has a question and I'm there, I'll help answer it. Unless I'm totally involved in the conversation, I'll let [the other UNC coaches] handle it. But, if it's something that he wants to continue to talk about when we get home, then that's something we'll talk about as a family."
Equally unique -- albeit a different dynamic -- is that Adams has, and will continue to, accompany Jordyn on trips to other schools.
"It's not because I want to slide in and see what [another school] is doing," Adams said. "It's because, once again, I'm his dad and I want the best for him."
Adams has missed a couple of Jordyn's recruiting trips to Clemson. But Adams has visited Clemson with his son.
The Adams family, including Deke, is scheduled to visit Ohio State on April 15 for the Buckeyes' spring game. And they are working on a summer trip to Alabama, for which Deke will also be in attendance.
"I'm going to make every [visit] I can," Adams said. "But at the same time, we realize that I still have a job to do. And my job is to find players that can help us win at North Carolina."
Adams and Jordyn have yet to "formally" sit down and talk recruiting. But that doesn't mean the topic hasn't come up at the dinner table or while sitting on the living room couch while watching TV.
"There will be times when he'll ask a question or he'll ask a couple questions," Adams said. "If something is on his mind and he wants to know, he'll say something about it. Or if something is on my mind, I'll ask him if he has thought about it."
Even if UNC could magically be taken out of the equation, Adams provides his son with an unmatched resource as he goes through the recruiting process.
"The No. 1 thing I've told him is, 'You're in control of this situation,'" Adams said. "And No. 2, don't play around with people; if you're interested, you're interested, but if you're not, you're not. And the third thing is ask questions for everything you want to know. And when he does make that decision, where can he be for four years if his [recruiter] is not there; that coach being there is just a bonus."
With the assistance of his parents, Jordyn has constructed a decision game plan. He aims to have a final schools list assembled before the summer.
"I think the No. 1 thing is he wants to get a great education," Adams said. "He wants to be somewhere where it's a family environment. And then, obviously, one of the major things is playing time -- being able to get on the field early. It's a number of things, but those would be the top three coming from me."
If invited to the Nike Opening, he’ll make his verbal commitment there in July. If not, he’ll wait until his birthday, Oct. 18, to announce.
"We've talked about it before and it's definitely not a situation that we want to linger and want to go on through his senior year, because he wants to enjoy his senior year and not be running around and focused on recruiting," Adams said.
The Adams family has yet to formally sit down and discuss college options. Thus, Adams feels ill-equipped at this time to name which schools are strong contenders for Jordyn.
"What I will say is this: the schools that communicate with him the most are the schools that have a great chance of being around," Adams said. "Once again, it goes back to what I've been saying -- he is a family-oriented person and he wants to feel like it's a family situation. And if you're not communicating with him then I don't see how you can expect yourself to be in the picture. I'm saying that from a parent's standpoint and a coaching standpoint."
However, Adams will say that Jordyn is not a UNC lock.
"Don't assume anything," Adams said. "At the end of the day, Jordyn has been my son longer than I've ever been his coach. And I want what's best for my son.
"[Jordyn and I being a package] was something that was never talked about, that was something that I don't even think about with him, and [Jordyn] doesn't even talk about it. Things are going the same way with North Carolina as any other school. [Jordyn] is being recruited just as hard as anybody else."
Even with that in mind, UNC will receive an advantage not afforded to other schools.
"The last time I was at North Carolina, he was around [campus] all the time -- both of my boys were around all the time," Adams said. "But, he's been at other schools I coached at a lot -- so he's seen a lot."