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Former Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams experiences bumpy ride in Canadian Football League

UPDATED: Tue., July 31, 2018, 9:57 p.m.

Former Eastern Washington quarterbacks Matt Nichols and Bo Levi Mitchell, from left, have found loads of success in the CFL, while former EWU signal caller Vernon Adams has struggled to find his niche. (AJ Mast / Associated Press photos)
Former Eastern Washington quarterbacks Matt Nichols and Bo Levi Mitchell, from left, have found loads of success in the CFL, while former EWU signal caller Vernon Adams has struggled to find his niche. (AJ Mast / Associated Press photos)

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has established himself as one of the Canadian Football League’s premier talents.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB Matt Nichols hasn’t won a Grey Cup like Mitchell, but he’s a bona fide veteran and often among the league’s top-rated passers.

Unlike fellow Eastern Washington alum Vernon Adams, Mitchell and Nichols — the two lesser-known players in the college football world — have found stability north of the border.

When Adams registered his fourth career start in three years Thursday for the Montreal Alouettes, one-third of the CFL’s first-string quarterbacks were pupils of ex-EWU head coach Beau Baldwin.

That ended Tuesday when Adams was benched for Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning reclamation project who hasn’t started a game since 2015, his second year with the Cleveland Browns.

In a 44-23 loss Thursday to the Edmonton Eskimos, Adams completed 15 of his 28 passes for 217 yards and no touchdowns. He also rushed for 72 yards and a score. It was Adams’ first start since 2016, when he went 3-0 with Montreal.

But since Montreal released Adams last year, he’s bounced from Saskatchewan to Hamilton and back to swooning Montreal (1-5), which will be on its fifth starting quarterback this season when Manziel takes over Thursday.

Manziel was traded to Montreal just days before Adams’ loss in Montreal in which the home fans chanted, “We want Johnny!”

In a postgame interview, Adams, who ended his college career at Oregon as a graduate transfer, said he wouldn’t answer any questions about Manziel.

On Tuesday, Adams told the French-Canadian newspaper La Presse he was “hurt” by the crowd’s chants.

“I have nothing more to say or to give to the supporters of Montreal. Never again,” Adams told the newspaper. “Their behavior was very disrespectful. It was not like I was playing badly. I do not want them to ask me for anything, not even a small piece of equipment. … I do not care what the situation is. It was a lack of respect and it affected me. I tried anyways to make plays on the field.”

Adams later apologized.

“I am truly sorry for letting my emotions get the best of me in that moment. I’m a competitor, and I responded poorly,” Adams tweeted. “I understand y’all wanted to see JM2 & I wish him the best & care most about the Alouettes winning games. Love this Team.”

Mobile, crafty and undersized, both Adams and Manziel have competed for jobs on two different teams in the past two months. Adams was released by Hamilton in June, shortly after the club signed Manziel, and signed with Montreal as a free agent.

Mitchell, considered the league’s top player by several pundits, has completed 115 of 172 passes for 1,517 yards and 12 touchdowns for first-place Calgary (6-0).

Nichols, who missed the first three games with a foot injury, is 70 of 111 for 873 yards and five touchdowns for Winnipeg (4-3).

Five former Eagles have started games in the CFL this season, including veteran Edmonton Eskimos linebacker and Pullman High product J.C. Sherritt.

Sherritt, who helped Mitchell lead the Eagles to a FCS national title in 2010, has bounced back from a season-ending Achilles injury last year. In six games, he leads the Eskimos in tackles (34).

British Columbia defensive back T.J. Lee leads the Lions in interceptions for the second consecutive season, five years removed from his All-American senior season at EWU.

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