LEXINGTON — Brian Adams knows this could be a special season for him, but the sophomore wide receiver certainly will not be overwhelmed by any opportunity he gets to be a playmaker for the Kentucky offense.
“Things have been going great, especially the offense. We are starting to click and just need to shape up a few things. (Quarterback) Morgan (Newton) is clicking along. We have a lot of depth and are excited about it. We are looking forward to that first game (Sept. 1 against Western Kentucky),” Adams said.
“It is a whole lot of fun to even think about being a key receiver on this team. It’s one of those things where you have to come out to practice and treat it like it is a game. Make it a big-time game situation so when you get in a game, you have practiced like it. Obviously, there are not 70,000 people in the stadium for practice, but we are playing in the SEC in front of 70,000 people every week and there is not much to be down about.”
Adams missed the 2009 season when a blood clot threatened his life before it was properly treated. He redshirted that season and then played sparingly in 2010 when he had three catches for 23 yards in the 12 games he played. However, he’s been a starting outfielder for the Kentucky baseball team, where he’s been a productive player due to the same athleticism and speed that have him a spot in UK’s playing rotation this season.
Adams won’t really speculate on whether he’s a football player who also plays baseball or a baseball player who also spends time at football.
“I don’t know. Right now I am a football player, and it is a lot of fun to play both,” he said. “I’m just blessed to play both. The coaches have let me work it out and my family has been there the whole time and I am lucky to play two sports in the SEC. I just have a good time with it. Right now I am focused on playing football, and when December comes I will start thinking about baseball.”
Adams, who has been timed in 4.4 seconds for the 40-yard dash, believes playing both sports probably impacts him more in baseball than football.
“I don’t see as much live pitching throughout the year as most players do. Baseball has now become a year-round sport. They are playing summer ball and then going straight to fall and spring,” said Adams, a 45th-round draft choice by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2009 draft. “I don’t get the same at-bats that I need to, so it is one of those things where I have to adjust faster.
“Football is really all about just being an athlete. It probably comes back a little easier to me, but this is my first real year of playing receiver. Now that I am getting to spend a year on the football field, I can pick up things quicker than I did.”
However, he’s convinced competing almost year round in some sport helps him in both sports.
“You don’t want to say you are going to fail too much in football, but there will be times that something goes wrong. Baseball is a huge failure sport. It’s one of those things in baseball you have to work on not getting frustrated or you will be completely out of the loop and not able to compete the next play,” Adams said. “I bring that similar characteristic over to football where if something goes wrong, you go back to the huddle and get ready for next play and go.
“I am a big perfectionist. That is one of those things that I really have been my whole life. I hate to mess up. That drives me absolutely insane. It’s one of those things where I have to learn not to be too hard on myself but continue to push myself to get better each day.”
Adams says he’s had plenty of help with his development from high school quarterback/athlete to receiver.
“Coach Tee (Martin), words can’t describe how he has been with my development. The resources coach Tee has and the people he has played with, it’s just unbelievable the information he has and how he helps us get better. (Former UK receivers) Randall Cobb, Chris Matthews helped me. Even the receivers we have now have helped me learn new things. You have those guys around to make you better,” he said.
Just playing in the Southeastern Conference last year helped, too.
“I got to play in three or four plays a game last year. When you first come from high school to college, the level of practice is unbelievably different in college,” he said. “You are sore after practice. Not saying I didn’t work hard in high school, but it is a whole different level. I have been able to compete daily.
“I go against (linebacker) Danny Trevathan in practice and he’s the all-time leader in tackles last year. That’s what it will be like on Saturdays. I have practiced against good guys. I have seen what Randall has done. I have seen what Chris has done. I want to continue that tradition of great receivers we have had here.”
Adams says he learned one important lesson from his limited play last year.
“How to use my speed. That’s one of the things I watched Randall do. Even now when he came back recently, he helped me during the (NFL) lockout and helped me on some stuff like how to change speeds and become a better route runner,” Adams said. “That is probably the biggest thing I have noticed personally. I played quarterback in high school. I didn’t play receiver. It’s one of those things I really have come full circle on and feel like I am still getting better and just have to continue to improve.
“I am a pretty visual learner. I learn pretty well be seeing on film, but I learn also by seeing myself on film. I like to watch somebody else doing something successful, go out on the field and try it, and then get immediately back in the film room to see how I compare and work that way. That is what helps me the most.”
Adams impressed with UK freshmen
Adams tried not to say anything while also making it clear he likes the four true freshmen wide receivers on campus that are being counted on to bolster the offense this year.
“They (UK officials) told us we are not supposed to talk about them (the freshmen) too much, but all of them are doing a great job,” he said. “It’s one of those things where I know you all are excited about it, and you should be. There are some tremendous athletes and I can’t wait for you all to see them in a couple of weeks. They are doing a great job for us. I get to spend time with them each day and they are really good. They have a chance to do something very special.”
Adams is allowed to talk about Newton, and he really likes what he’s seen from Kentucky’s starter.
“Morgan has gotten a lot better. The biggest thing we worked on during the offseason was timing. We had a play down in the corner (in our first scrimmage) where I threw a guy by (to get open) and the ball was already out. It’s just me and him knowing what each other is doing and he has gotten so much better because he is a threat with his legs with well,” Adams said.
“Last year with Mike (Hartline) we saw different coverages and we won’t see some of those this year because of Morgan’s versatility. It was similar to when Peyton Manning was (quarterback) at Tennessee with coach Martin. They saw certain coverages when Manning was there and then coach Tee came in and defenses couldn’t do the same things because of his ability to run. We are going to be like that this year.”