Mackenzi Adams, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound quarterback from Tulsa, Okla., became Vanderbilt's first commitment for 2005 last Sunday shortly after the staff held its All Positions Camp on campus. Adams, a two-year starter at North Metro Christian High School, threw for 5,146 yards and 49 touchdowns the last two seasons. As a junior he rushed for 1,063 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Jeff Adams, his father, high school coach and mentor, talked about Mackenzi's attributes as a quarterback, and the pair's experiences on Vanderbilt's campus last weekend.
Coach Jeff Adams: "Mackenzi is kind of a late bloomer... he's still growing. But he's a coach's kid. I know he's always worked hard. Probably by his sophomore year of high school I knew that he was going to be able to get to the next level, if he worked hard enough and if he wanted to. He's been around quarterback instructors all his life, and he has great mechanics, great foot placement, great hip placement.
"Right now, he's kind of unique. He's 6-3, 190. People look at him and say, he's a throwing quarterback. But really that's deceptive, because he ran a 4.57 in the 40 when we were at Vanderbilt's camp last weekend. He tested out No. 1 in all the events of all the quarterbacks. He's not just a quarterback who can run or a quarterback who can throw... he does both. He fits the Vanderbilt system just perfect to a tee, because Coach Kiser does such a great job with the quarterbacks, both running and throwing.
"We've had a lot of interest. The first school, back in January, that started showing a lot of interest was Alabama. When they got Mackenzi's tape, one of the Alabama coaches told me that he was the best junior quarterback they'd seen on tape. They compared him to the kid from LSU, the Parillo kid. He had a lot of interest from Kansas, TCU, North Texas, Air Force, Kansas State. He had been recruited by Vanderbilt since I guess last March. We've stayed in touch since then. They've done an unbelievable job recruiting him. They used integrity, and they used character in their recruiting process. They said the really liked Mackenzi and wanted to see him in camp.
"We flew into Nashville Saturday, toured the campus, toured the facilities, met the coaches. We spent the night Saturday night, went to camp on Sunday, and had a great camp. Before we left, after the camp was over, Coach [Bobby] Johnson, Coach [Jimmy] Kiser and Coach [Warren] Belin pulled us up into Coach Johnson's office and told Mackenzi that he was the one they wanted to lead Vanderbilt to the next level. They offered him a full scholarship on the spot, and we accepted.
"We had gone in with the idea that we weren't going to commit. We were going to wait, because there were a lot of other opportunities on the table. But after looking at the facilities at Vanderbilt, meeting the players and the coaches, and seeing what Vanderbilt was about, playing in the SEC-- wanting to be a part of a program that was about to turn the corner, like we feel Vanderbilt is-- we feel Vanderbilt is on the verge of becoming SEC champions, and we wanted to be part of that-- we just want to be part of what everybody in Nashville has worked so hard to do.
"Mackenzi has always been the type of kid that, he's not a follower. He's a leader. He doesn't care what others do. He knew what he felt in his heart. We had a peace about it. We're hoping our commitment will draw others to do the same.
"It's been a big deal here in Oklahoma. I've had phone calls from all over. It's a big deal to be from Oklahoma and going to play in the SEC at Vanderbilt. I believe it's going to spark a lot of interest in Vanderbilt from the state of Oklahoma.
"Mackenzi is feeling a lot of relief-- that's the best word for it. He can concentrate now on his senior football season. He looks forward to his official visit next fall. It's just a relief knowing he's going to be part of a program that is going to turn the corner. We really believe that. It's just exciting, and a big relief.
"He won't be going to any other camps. We're done going to camps. Since I've been back we've been getting phone calls and letters from other coaches wanting us to do that. We're off the table. We're not going to any other camps. We've got a solid verbal to Vanderbilt, and we're excited."
Adams will transfer for his senior year to Union High School, a powerhouse program perennially ranked among the USA Today Super 25 programs in the nation. TheInsiders asked Coach Adams, was that done initially more to increase his exposure, or to raise the level of the competition he'd face?
Coach Jeff Adams: "The exposure had nothing to do with it. When a college coach looks at a quarterback, they look at his mechanics. They look at his arm strength, his feet and his speed, and they can see a lot of that on game film. They saw that in Mackenzi this weekend. I knew that his accomplishment from what he had done before was going to get him to the next level. We wanted to go to Union for the experience, for playing at a perennial powerhouse. He'll play in front of 40-45,000 fans on a weekly basis. They'll be on TV five or six times next season, and they'll play for a state championship. We just wanted to be a part of that experience. That was it."