Adams made his first start in more than 13 months, playing all 73 snaps in the Huskies' win over Utah. Following back and knee surgeries, the All-American left tackle says he intends to return to UW for a fifth season in 2019.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — An emotional Trey Adams exchanged hugs with just about everyone in purple Friday night in the moments after Washington secured its first Rose Bowl berth since 2000.
In his first start for the Huskies in more than 13 months, Adams played all 73 snaps at left tackle in a 10-3 victory over Utah in the Pac-12 championship game. The preseason All-American missed the first 10 games of the season while recovering from back surgery, which followed major knee surgery in October 2017.
“The way I looked at it was, my time and this team’s time was going to come,” the 6-foot-8, 320-pound senior from Wenatchee said in his first interview since August. “It’s all about persistence and continuing to work and finding a way. And we found a way tonight, and I found a way throughout the season to get back on the field. Credit to the O-line and the Coach Huff, Coach Pete and Coach Socha for giving me a chance and giving the whole team a chance to be in this position.”
During fall camp in August, as he worked his way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, Adams was optimistic he would be able to play in the Huskies’ season opener. Less than a week before the game against Auburn, the back injury popped up suddenly.
“It came out of nowhere. I just woke up one day and couldn’t walk,” he said, revealing for the first time that he had a bulging disc that required surgery in early September.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that my knees and my back are going to hurt for the rest of my life, just given my size and given that I play sports,” he added. “You’ve got to be tough to play this game. I’m not saying I’m the toughest guy out there; every guy out there at this point in the season is feeling something. I don’t have an excuse not to get out there and give it my full effort.”
He spent more than two months recovering and rehabilitating from back surgery, motivated by the negative reactions he saw on social media.
“A lot of people counted me out and said I was done. A couple people said I would never play football again,” he said. “Shout out to them, because I’m back and I thought I played well, and I thought the whole team played well.”
After two October losses, the Huskies (10-3) had to win their final four games to reach the Rose Bowl.
“A lot of people counted us out after Cal, and even Auburn,” Adams said. “But we kept going, and I kept working. The whole O-line played good tonight. We didn’t score (a touchdown), but I think we had a good game and this is all worth it. Now we’re going to the Rose Bowl.”
Adams made his return against Oregon State on Nov. 17, playing a few series off the bench. He played the majority of the Apple Cup after junior Jared Hilbers — the regular starter at left tackle in Adams’ absence — went down with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Hilbers did not suit up for Friday’s Pac-12 title game.
The Rose Bowl will be the fourth game of the season for Adams, the maximum number allowed to still qualify for redshirt status under new NCAA rules. Adams, once projected as a potential first-round NFL draft pick, said he intends to return for a fifth season at UW in 2019.
For now, he has the Rose Bowl to look forward to.
“I would say two things: We’re not done yet. But also, this feeling is once in a lifetime,” he said. “A lot of guys in this locker room have worked their butt off to get here. We wouldn’t do it without Coach Pete, without Coach Socha and all those guys, and it’s amazing.”