Less than a year ago, as he sweated through an incomplete math class, Vernon Adams Jr. was contemplating a career in the Canadian Football League.
Now it’s a reality. After failing to sign a free agent contract with two National Football League teams, the former Eastern Washington quarterback is heading north.
And east, too, thanks a weekend deal in which the B.C. Lions traded Adams’ CFL rights to the Montreal Alouettes. On Sunday, Adams signed a three-year contract with the Alouettes, who’ve struggled at the quarterback position.
“Can’t wait to get to work! God is so good,” Adams said on Twitter after signing the deal. “Thank you to all my supporters and believers. Doubters, keep fueling me.”
Most of those doubts stemmed from Adams’ 5-foot-11 height, not his statistics on the field. In three years with the Eagles, he threw for 13,081 yards and 136 touchdowns while leading EWU to a 35-9 record.
Last year at Oregon, he was 168 for 259 for 2,643 yards, 26 TDs and just six interceptions.
However, his name wasn’t called during last month’s NFL draft. Tryouts with Seattle and Washington didn’t lead to free-agent contracts, which forced Adams to take the same road he almost took a year ago.
Needing to pass a final math exam to get his EWU degree and qualify to play as a graduate transfer at Oregon, Adams almost gave up last summer and moved to Vancouver, where the Lions held his Canadian rights.
“I was almost ready to give up and go play in the CFL,” Adams said last fall, after passing the online exam.
“My mom and my dad and family kept pushing, kept pushing me, kept saying, ‘Stay with it, this is going to work out for you.’ “
It still might. The Alouettes have struggled at quarterback since the retirement of Anthony Calvillo in 2014. Last year, Rakeem Cato, Brandon Bridge, Jonathan Crompton and Kevin Glenn each played at quarterback as Montreal finished last in the nine-team CFL last year in passing yards.
Citing Adams’ mobility, NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt applauded the move. “Perfect marriage – he’ll do well in the CFL,” said Brandt, the vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1988.
If Adams’ long-term goal is the NFL, he can look to quarterbacks Warren Moon and Doug Flutie for inspiration. Moon, a University of Washington star in the 1970s, played six years in Edmonton before playing 17 seasons in the NFL and ending up in the Hall of Fame.
Flutie, a Heisman Trophy winner at Boston College in 1984, started in the NFL before playing eight years in the CFL. He returned to the NFL for eight more seasons before retiring in 2005.
Adams’ CFL career will begin immediately. Montreal opens the preseason on June 8 at Winnipeg. The regular season begins June 22.
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