For the third-straight season, Eastern wide receiver coach participates in the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship Program
It is obvious that Junior Adams loves to coach, and even more than that, loves to learn how to coach.
The highly-energetic Eastern Washington University wide receiver coach is in Minnesota completing his third-straight year as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship Program. He left July 25 for the Minnesota Vikings training camp in Mankato, Minn., and will return on Aug. 5 in time for EWU’s preseason practices.
“It’s a great experience and I’ve been fortunate to do three of these in a row,” said Adams before he departed. “I’ve been able to meet a lot of new coaches and players. That’s a lot of knowledge for me to gain from a lot of professionals. I ask a lot of questions, and they are all very respectful. I wish people could experience what I’ve experienced.”
“(Eastern head coach) Beau Baldwin has given me the opportunity to take two weeks and spend it in training camp with these fine organizations,” he added. “It’s a blessing that they feel highly enough of me to bring me in to assist wherever it’s needed.”
Adams is helping coach wide receivers at Minnesota, and previously worked with receivers for the Oakland Raiders in 2010 and running backs for the Indianapolis Colts in 2011. He is currently working under veteran wide receivers coach George Stewart, who is in his 25th year as a coach in the NFL. One of the top receivers for the Vikings is Percy Harvin, who caught 87 passes for 967 yards and six touchdowns in 2011. Adams was able to spend a week this past spring with the Vikings and Stewart during an organized team activities session (called OTA’s).
“Just the week I spent there with him I learned a lot,” Adams said. “Coach Stewart is a very, very good man – he’s probably a better man than he is a coach, and that says a lot. He really is about mentoring young players and helping them achieve their goals.”
Like he has the last two years, Adams will pass along what he learned to his fellow coaches, as well as players. His wide receiver corp at EWU is loaded with talent, featuring three players who have all had 1,000-yard receiving seasons and have previously earned All-America accolades.
“Our players benefit,” said Adams. “I’m able to bring some of the knowledge back to our other players and coaches – even at other positions. I’m able to share that experience with the entire team.”
“I’m in this business to be the best I can possibly be. I want to leave a good impression on the players that I coach and develop them from young men into men. Down the road, they are going to be saying things that I’ve said, and passing knowledge along to somebody else.”
As Adams embarked upon his new experience in Minnesota, he fondly recalled the associations he has had with coaches, players and administrators. Included in the long lists of names he reflected upon from Oakland were deceased owner Al Davis, head coach Tom Cable, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, running backs coach Kelly Skipper and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal. The list from his experiences in Indianapolis included head coach Jim Caldwell, running backs coach David Walker, assistant offensive line coach Ron Prince and players Joseph Addai, Peyton Manning, Jeff Saturday and Reggie Wayne.
The Colts, the 2007 Super Bowl champion and runners-up in 2010, were particularly impressive.
“It was a learning experience just being around those players and seeing how they attacked it every day in meetings, walk-throughs and practice,” Adams explained. “It was a great, great experience. Their organization is well-rounded, and you can see why they’ve had the success they’ve had over the years.”
As Eastern’s liaison with professional teams, the enhanced contacts Adams has with NFL teams should help Eastern players who desire to play in the pro ranks. However, Eastern’s tradition is already sound.
Since 1984, when Eastern became a member of the NCAA Championship Subdivision (FCS), 64 Eastern football players have either signed free agent contracts or have been drafted by National Football League (NFL) or Canadian Football League (CFL) teams. Ten have been drafted by the NFL and five drafted by the CFL to go along with four NFL draftees between 1965-74. Eastern has also enjoyed a recent influx of players into the Arena Football League (AFL) and arenafootball2 (af2), as well as in the United Football League (UFL) and Indoor Football League (IFL). Prior to that, several played in the World League, which became NFL Europa before it folded.
“In the last couple of decades, there have been a lot of NFL-caliber players come out of Eastern,” said Adams, who played at Oregon State and Montana State before becoming a coach. “In the FCS, we are up there with the best of them at getting players into the pro ranks. There is a good reputation here, and the players do a good job after they leave Eastern of becoming men and conducting themselves in the proper manner as pros.”
He looks forward to helping Eastern players achieve those goals through a continued association with the NFL. He will continue to apply for the fellowship, named under late Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh. And perhaps preseason schedules will mesh so that he can actually help coach in an NFL preseason game.
“I want to coach in a preseason game at some point,” he said. “When that will come, I don’t know. If not, hopefully I’m still working at some team’s camp.”
“If you continue to grow and keep getting better, it’s an awesome profession,” he added. “It’s challenging and it’s fun, and I love it. When you keep learning it’s always fun.”
Junior Adams Bio
Wide Receivers/Pro Liaison - 4th Season - Montana State ‘04
Junior Adams, a former All-America wide receiver at Montana State, enters his fourth season as coach of Eastern’s talented and highly-productive corp of wide receivers. He also serves as Eastern’s liaison with professional football scouts.
Adams has also received multiple grants as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program. Those grants have given him the opportunity to work at summer training camps with several National Football League coaching staffs – the Oakland Raiders (2010), Indianapolis Colts (2011) and Minnesota Vikings (2012).
Entering the 2012 season at EWU, Nicholas Edwards, Greg Herd and Brandon Kaufman have all earned All-America accolades and have 1,000-yard seasons in their careers. That trio has combined for 99 games worth of experience (69 starts), and have collective totals of 405 catches for 5,475 yards and 56 touchdowns. There is still one season left to play for Edwards and Herd, and a pair for Kaufman after he received an injury redshirt in 2011.
Edwards earned first team NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America accolades on seven different teams, and was a first team All-Big Sky selection, after catching a school-record 95 passes for 1,250 yards and 19 touchdowns to lead the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Herd caught 67 passes for 1,022 yards and seven scores as a second team All-Big Sky Conference selection. Kaufman redshirted the 2011 season as an injury hardship case, but earned first team All-America and first team All-Big Sky honors after catching 76 catches for 1,214 yards and 15 touchdowns as a sophomore when he helped lead the Eagles to the NCAA Division I title.
In his first season at EWU in 2009, Adams coached a group of experienced receivers that featured senior All-American Aaron Boyce. Boyce was injured in the middle of the season, but eventually earned second team All-Big Sky honors along with senior Tony Davis. Boyce finished second in school history in receptions (222), yards (3,330) and touchdown catches (29), and Davis finished his career third in catches (213) and fourth in yards (2,566). In part because of Boyce’s injury, Edwards, Herd and Kaufman played significantly in 2009, and that paid dividends in 2010.
Adams originally attended and played at Oregon State, and then transferred to Montana State where he made an immediate impact for head coach Mike Kramer, who was head coach at Eastern from 1994-98. In 2001, Adams earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors as both a wide receiver and return specialist. He averaged 19.0 yards per punt return, with three touchdowns in a total of 20 returns. One of his touchdowns was an 84-yard return against Eastern in a 48-38 victory over the Eagles at Albi Stadium in Spokane on Oct. 6, 2001. He caught 40 passes for 652 yards and six touchdowns for the 5-6 Bobcats.
As a senior, he caught 66 passes for 983 yards and eight touchdowns to earn All-America honors. He broke a Big Sky Conference record when he averaged 60.5 yards per reception (two catches for 121 yards) against Weber State. He helped MSU to a 7-5 overall record as the Bobcats finished 5-2 in the Big Sky Conference to earn a piece of the league title. He scored the winning touchdown in a 10-7 victory over rival Montana at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula that ended MSU’s 16-game losing streak versus the Grizzlies. Earlier in the season, he caught 11 passes for 181 yards in a 45-28 loss at Washington State.
Adams remained at MSU to serve as a wide receivers and returns coach under Kramer, and then spent the 2007 season in the same capacity at Prosser (Wash.) High School. He helped head coach Tom Moore finish the season 14-0 and win the WIAA State 2A title. Adams coached the 2008 season at Tennessee-Chattanooga before joining EWU’s program.
A native of Fremont, Calif., he enjoyed an outstanding prep career at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif., where he rushed for 3,385 yards and scored 53 touchdowns in three seasons. After he graduated in 1998, Adams redshirted at Oregon State in the fall. He played two seasons for head coach Dennis Erickson and was a member of the 2000 Pacific 10 Conference championship team and played in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.
A 1998 graduate of Amador Valley High School in California, his full name is Alton J. Adams Jr. He was born on Oct. 20, 1979, in Fremont, Calif., and will turn 33 the day Eastern hosts Sacramento State on Oct. 20, 2012.