Initial Jerry Rice Award Watch List Includes EWU’s Vernon Adams

Just two starts into his collegiate career, Eagle quarterback is a candidate for The Sports Network’s FCS Freshman of the Year award

His college football career consists of just two starts – and two victories – but Eastern Washington University quarterback Vernon Adams is one of 16 candidates announced Wednesday (Oct. 3) by The Sports Network for the 2012 Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

Adams is a freshman redshirt from Pasadena, Calif., and graduated from Alemany High School in 2011.

The watch list includes six quarterbacks, three running backs, one wide receiver, one all-purpose player, four linebackers and one strong safety. Named for the legendary wide receiver who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State, the Jerry Rice Award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The list will grow to 20 finalists by then.

In addition to the Rice Award, The Sports Network presents the Walter Payton, Buck Buchanan and Eddie Robinson awards. The Payton Award honors the outstanding player in the FCS, the Buchanan Award goes to the outstanding defensive player in the FCS and the Robinson Award honors the FCS coach of the year.

All four major awards will be announced at the FCS national banquet on Dec. 17 in Philadelphia. Last year, Eastern quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell won the Payton Award, which was also won by EWU quarterback Erik Meyer in 2005. In addition, Eagle defensive end Greg Peach won the Buchanan Award in 2008 and Eastern linebacker J.C. Sherritt won that honor in 2010.

Adams is 2-0 thus far as Eastern’s starter, and currently ranks 24th in FCS in passing efficiency (143.1). He has completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 428 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and has also rushed for 118 yards and a team-leading 7.4 average per carry.

In his most recent start, a 32-26 home victory over rival Montana, Adams completed 25-of-41 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns, and also added a team-leading 54 yards rushing. He accounted for 407 of EWU’s 447 yards of total offense. In the final quarter alone, Adams was 13-of-21 for 171 yards and a pair of scores as Eastern scored twice in the final 2:19 for the win.

His first career start came against Weber State on Sept. 22, also a 32-26 Eastern win. Although he played sparingly in the second half because of leg cramps, he was 7-of-12 for 75 yards and rushed five times for 62 yards.

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