The offensive line works front and center in practice. They get a lot of attention. Now, Adkins was working from behind being hired late, not too long before the spring started. He felt a little behind the clock.
"Because of the relationships you build with your players, that is so important because each player has to be motivated a certain way," said Adkins. "At the end of the day they need to know me and I have to know them and the communication barrier has to be broken down.
"They had to understand the way that I coach, the style that I coach, and the personality I have in the meeting room and on the practice field."
Apparently that was not an issue with the Cowboys. In fact, it would seem that the offensive linemen feel like they have a new coach that will make them better as a group, as individual offensive linemen, and help the offense and the team crank out yards and points at a high rate. Several of the linemen gushed about Adkins as a coach, but right guard Jesse Robinson said it best.
"He just knows his stuff. He's a football genius and he knows what he's talking about," Robinson said at the end of spring practice.
"He makes it so much fun to get out there and just play for him. You look forward to getting into meetings with him. You don't know what he's going to bring every day. He's just going to shake it up on you. Every drill we do has a purpose. We see it in film. He just makes it so much fun to get out there and play."
Adkins feels the first unit is pretty solid, but is anxious to figure out more depth on the line. That will come when camp opens on Aug. 4.
"I believe it is still a work in progress and there is some experience in that group and we need to break some bad habits and they worked as hard as any group I have ever had in spring practice," the veteran coach expressed. "I'm optimistic about this group."
Adkins is a native of West Virginia and for college he chose Marshall. Yes, the same Marshall of "We Are Marshall." The school that suffered for years following a tragic plane crash on the return from a road trip to East Carolina. The crash wiped out the football program with everyone aboard losing their lives. The movie depicts an early win in the rebirth of the program, but the truth is that Marshall struggled for many seasons, well over a decade, following the 1971 tragedy.
"Part of the reason that I chose Marshall was I wanted to be part of the solution and not the problem," said the former Thundering Herd offensive lineman and team captain. "They had struggled for a long period of time after the plane crash.
"I'm a blue collar guy and I like to roll my sleeves up and get dirty. I wanted to be part of something that was important not only to Marshall University and its fans but really to college football and state of West Virginia. There is a sense of pride and fortunately I was part of the 1987 team and that was the first team that really, really reaped the benefits of a lot of hard work and in 1987 we played for the national championship (Division I-AA, now Division I FCS)."
It is an experience and a memory that Adkins can call upon often, something he can share with his players to let them know that tough times can always be tougher. Also, to let them know that huge obstacles can be conquered.
"That group (1987 Marshall team) is probably a group that will always be remembered for instilling pride back in the community and in the university," Adkins said. "It is a special place and you certainly don't want to play them on the week of the anniversary of the plane crash because they have a phenomenal record at that time."
Adkins graduated in 1990 with a degree in sports management and marketing. He wanted to try the NFL, but he also wanted to be able to fall back on coaching if the NFL wasn't in the cards. Adkins was a student-athlete representative on the committee that interviewed coaches to replace his head coach George Chaump, who had taken the job at the Naval Academy.
"I was a part of the interview process as a student-athlete there and it was Jim Donnan (former Missouri and OU assistant) that got the job," Adkins explained. "I had thought of playing in the NFL and then also coaching and when I spoke to Coach Donnan it took about three seconds and he said, 'you're hired.' I said that's great. I was only 20 years old and coached five years there and we played for four national championships in five years."
The success was so great that when Glen Mason at Kansas was hired and then turned down the job at Georgia, Donnan got the Bulldogs job on the rebound.
"I got a phone call and he said you need to get to Huntington and I said 'Coach, it's Christmas Day,' and he said we're going to the University of Georgia," Adkins remembered. "Two days later I was in Athens, Georgia and was the 26-year-old offensive line coach at Georgia. I owe a lot ot him and the belief he had in me as far as getting in this business."
Over the years Adkins has earned his extensive and strong reputation as a coach on the offensive line and a recruiter at Georgia and later Tennessee. He came to Oklahoma State fresh off coaching the tight ends at Buffalo in the NFL.
He is a recruiter that doesn't go by the numbers, but like the Oklahoma State staff as a whole, likes to turn over rocks, all the rocks.
"I don't pay attention to the stars or how many offers or any of that kind of stuff. I go about formulating who I want on my roster by seeing them in person and up close if I can," Adkins added. "I'm all about opportunities for kids."
He has proven that already at Oklahoma State and it didn't take him very long to do so.