Vernon Adams has another new look.
If you can get past the eye-catching eyebrows – each is chisled in half – you’ll see some serious muscle.
Bigger guns for the shotgun, if you will. The legs are thicker, too.
“So I can take more hits,” said Adams, who added about 12 pounds in the weight room this winter.
It makes sense, because if you’re getting the bulk of the snaps, you’d better bulk up.
Adams is up to about 190 pounds, but does he still have the speed to make a highlight-reel play such as the mad scramble and touchdown pass against Sacramento State?
“I don’t know – we’ll see,” Adams said.
The biggest change may be behind those eyebrows. Along with fellow quarterbacks Anthony Vitto and Jordan West, Adams has spent plenty of time in the film room this offseason with QB coach Zak Hill.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” Adams said. “With Coach Hill, I saw a lot of little mistakes, and perfect those little mistakes, like not running when I don’t have to.”
That starts with recognizing defenses in the first two seconds after the snap – typically the biggest hurdle for new quarterbacks as they try to slow down the unfolding action in their minds.
“It’s kind of getting easier,” Adams said. “Just trust what I see and be confident, the coaches tell me.”
Adams has never lacked that. A scout team star in 2011, he made big strides in spring camp last year and didn’t back down when every expert had assigned the starter’s job to SMU transfer Kyle Padron.
Thrust into the starter’s role when Big Sky Conference play began, Adams grew up quickly. In the home opener against Montana, he brought the Eagles back from nine points down with seven minutes left. The game-winning touchdown pass to Ashton Clark in the final minute was the first of many highlights, as Adams scrambled in the backfield, rolled out to force the defensive back to commit, then hit a wide-open Clark for the TD.
Hill was impressed.
“He had gone through to play a lot and be so effective, I have a lot of confidence in him,” Hill said. “He does such a good job of turning a bad play into a good play, of making something out of nothing at times.”
By season’s end, Adams had completed 131 of 215 pass attempts (60.9 percent) for 1,961 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also finished with 342 rushing yards, third on the team.
Hs running ability also helped the larger ground game.
“The defenses are really keying on him, they’re spreading out, so that creates running lanes for us,” running backs coach Kiel McDonald said.
The season ended with a 45-42 loss to Sam Houston State in the Football Championship Subdivision semfinals. Padron’s career ended three weeks later when he surprisingly opted to turn pro.
“We still talk and text,” Adams said of Padron. “I miss him, but we’re just trying to move on.”
That includes film sessions with Hill and the other quarterbacks Vitto and West.
“I’m still competing for that starting job,” Adams said.