The son of former Seahawks defensive lineman Sam Adams is big-time recruit that wants to help the Crusaders win a state title. But he's not interested in rushing the passer.
The big hands. The long body. The insatiable appetite.
As Erika Adams gushed over her newborn son, she often whispered to her husband, “Well, this is your lineman. This is going to be the one.”
He was named Sam Adams II. And, as his father and grandfather before him, he’d grow to be an NFL lineman. Or at least play defense.
“It’s the family business,” said the elder Sam Adams, who the Seattle Seahawks’ drafted with the eighth pick of the 1994 NFL draft. Adams carved out a 14-year career at defensive tackle, winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000.
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His oldest son, Terin, is following the defensive legacy as a cornerback at Arizona State. But Sammy? Talk of defense and linemen center on how a tackle was missed or how the youngest Adams burst thorough the line as a running back.
“Unbelievable,” the elder Sam Adams teases of having a son who avoids the art form that made him a Pro Bowler. “But I never said I didn’t teach him how to play defense. He knows how to rush the passer and how to play defense. He just doesn’t want to.”
At least not with his hand on the ground.
Sam Adams II is a dual threat for Eastside Catholic as it heads into its eighth consecutive Class 3A state football tournament appearance. The junior plans to help guide the top-seeded Crusaders to the championship game.
Eastside (8-1) hosts No. 16 seed Lake Washington (4-6) in the opener on Friday night.
“Being versatile, that just makes us a more dangerous team,” he said.
There’s an impulse to call this season a breakout for Sam Adams II. He was named the Metro League Mountain Division’s Offensive MVP and first team on defense at cornerback after racking up 545 rushing yards, 111 receiving yards, three interceptions and scoring 11 touchdowns.
But Adams feels it’s just a delayed debut.
During his freshman season at Eastside, Adams was a backup for Tyler Folkes, who plays for Montana Tech, and didn’t see a down. As a sophomore, on the third play of Eastside’s first offensive drive in the season-opener against Gonzaga Prep, Adams suffered what was thought to be a left high-ankle sprain.
A MRI taken after the Crusaders’ triple-overtime win showed Adams actually damaged the tendons in the upper and lower part of ankle and needed intensive rehab that included acupuncture and techniques his father learned as a pro. Adams rose at 6 a.m. for school and often didn’t return until 9 p.m. because of treatment and workouts through the fall months.
Adams didn’t return to play until the playoffs, and that was too soon.
“It slowed down the healing process,” Adams said of the 13 carries he had in three postseason games. “It was heartbreaking for me. I felt it was going to be my time to really show everybody that I can play, too. Making the state run without the starting running back, I felt I let my team down.”
Eastside also lost running back Derek Ray (ankle) and quarterbacks Michael Franklin (collar bone) and Zach Lewis (ankle) early during the 2017 season. Eastside lost to a talented Garfield team in the state quarterfinals.
Adams slipped into the background in terms of recruiting. On a team with four-star recruits such as receivers Gee Scott Jr. and D.J. Rogers, cornerback Ayden Hector and five-star defensive tackle J.T. Tuimoloau, it’s easy to get overshadowed.
Adams had his lineage and siblings to help keep him focused. While his grandfather played offensive line for the New England Patriots (1972-80) and his dad was the No. 1 high-school prospect from Houston in his day, Adams’ up-close view of what it takes to be an elite athlete came from his brother and sister’s recruitment.
Adams’ sister Te’a is a sophomore point guard at San Diego State. Her little brother was the quiet tag-along to every AAU and Juanita basketball roster she starred on, making every trip across the country for tournaments and there for pickup games after practices.
When not tailing his sister’s career, Terin was teaching Adams technique and how to train.
“Watching my sister compete, that’s what made me want to be part of a sport at a competitive level,” Sam Adams II said. “That’s when I really focused on football. But last year with the injury, I knew I had to be patient because all of my friends had eyes on them (recruiting) and I didn’t.”
Adams, who’s 6 foot 2 and 200 pounds, trains with Ford Sports Performance in Bellevue. He was part of the 7-on-7 traveling team last summer where he shined enough to get noticed by scouts for his own talents and not the family name. Cal was the first school to make a scholarship offer. Adams has since received 27 offers, including his father’s alma mater, Texas A&M, and most recently Washington.
The family could open a stationary shop with all of the recruiting pamphlets, cards, posters and letters accumulated by the three children and their father. And those are just mailings. Sam Adams II spends 40-minutes nightly fielding calls and text messages from scouts.
“Recruiting is something else nowadays,” said the elder Sam Adams, whose mother unlisted their home phone number when he was in high-school to limit the contact. “But if he’s going to play in college, he has to know how to carry himself. He has to respond to everyone, show them respect. Give everyone your attention.”
Sam Adams II is gifted in mathematics and science, so his final decision could lean toward a school strong in those fields. But he’s clear about wanting to play running back.
As for Eastside and its title hopes? He’ll line up on defense if it’ll get the Crusaders to the Tacoma Dome, also bringing a smile to his father.
“Making plays on defense for my team is a good feeling,” said Adams, who’s a first-time varsity starter at cornerback. “But I love running the ball. That’s what feels natural to me.”
State football breakdown
When: First round Friday and Saturday; concludes with finals Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
Where: Opening rounds at various home sites around the state. All classifications will play their championship game at the Tacoma Dome.
Follow along: On Twitter, @JaydaEvans; @WIAAWA; #wafbscores.
Top storylines: Royal (10-0) is the hottest team in the postseason. The Knights have won 51 consecutive games and the past three Class 1A state championships. Coach Wiley Allred is 227-26 in Royal City. … Eastside Catholic (8-1) is the most star-studded team in the postseason with seven players rated three stars or better by scouting site 247Sports.com. … Yelm (7-3) advanced to the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 1987. … First-year Bellevue coach Michael Kneip won four Class 3A state titles as a Wolverines player and now aims to win as coach. … Lake Stevens (10-0) outscored opponents 498-128 en route to its Class 4A state tourney bid. … KingCo 4A advanced five of its 10 teams to state, the most of any league in any classification. KingCo hasn’t won a Class 4A state title since Bothell in 2014. Woodinville was the runner-up last year.
Players to watch: QB Cale Millen, Mount Si, 6-3, 190, Sr. (Oregon commit is 227 of 298 passing for 3,037 yards and 42 touchdowns with five interceptions); DT J.T. Tuimoloau, Eastside Catholic, 6-4, 245, So. (five-star athlete has six sacks, one fumble recovery, one blocked punt, and 37 total tackles); QB Dylan Morris, Graham-Kapowsin, 6-1, 195, Sr. (Washington commit is 142 of 239 passing for 1,982 yards and 25 touchdowns with seven interceptions); K Blake Glessner, Woodinville, 6-1, 155, Jr. (made 11 of 14 field goals this season, the longest was 45 yards); DB Kasen Kinchen, Lake Stevens, 5-11, 165, Jr. (seven interceptions); WR/CB Darien Chase, Union, 6-1, 185, Sr. (Nebraska commit has 43 catches for 508 yards and eight touchdowns); TE/LB Jaymason Willingham, Steilacoom, 6-3, 215, Sr. (three-star athlete has scored 13 touchdowns and tallied 12 sacks); DE Ryan Kershaw, La Salle, 6-1, 190, So. (state-leading 15.5 sacks); RB Jack Mertens, Mountain View, 5-11, 175, Sr. (has 1,319 yards on 117 carries with 19 touchdowns); WR Mykel Campbell, Lincoln, 6-4, 195, Sr. (three-star athlete has 678 yards on 28 catches with nine touchdowns).
Favorites: Class 4A: Woodinville (2017 runners-up), Union, Graham-Kapowsin, Puyallup. Class 3A: O’Dea (2017 state champs), Eastside Catholic, Lincoln, Snohomish. Class 2A: Hockinson (2017 state champs), Lynden, Tumwater (2017 state runner-up), Liberty. Class 1A: Royal (2017 state champs), Meridian (2017 state runner-up), Hoquiam, Zillah. Class 2B: Kalama (2017 state champs), Adna, Reardan, Napavine.
Last: There’s no bigger Cinderella story than Lake Washington (4-6). The Kangaroos started the season 0-6 but won their past four to advance to the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 2003.