As first impressions go, they don’t get much better than the one new Ticats quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. made on Monday.
In town for a whirlwind two days of media obligations, staff introductions and medical appointments – don’t worry, everything is fine – Adams did and said all the things you’d hope a young quarterback coming into this particular situation would.
First, he mixed it up with Ticats’ fans on Twitter, asking for their restaurant recommendations. Then he actually checked out one of the more than 60 suggestions he received (HAMBRGR on King William) before Tweeting out a pic of the massive burger he ordered.
— Vernon Adams Jr. (@bigplay_va) February 5, 2018
Not only did Adams make an excellent culinary choice but he said all the right things about football as well, fully comprehending his role on a Ticat team that is expected to be led by starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
“I feel like I’m still young. I’m going to compete, I’m going to play my heart out but I have a lot to learn from Jeremiah and coach June Jones,” Adams said. “I’m going to come in, do what I can to earn the guys’ respect and trust and just wait my turn.”
If you’re the Ticats and Masoli that’s pretty much exactly what you want to hear.
Still just 25, Adams already has two seasons of CFL experience and one of the most interesting career trajectories this side of Kevin Glenn. A former star at Eastern Washington and then at Oregon – one of Masoli’s alma maters – Adams has already been a part of four different Canadian teams.
First, it was the B.C. Lions, who had Adams on their neg list. But with young pivot Jonathon Jennings already in-house, the Lions traded him to the Alouettes for a first-round pick. His second season with Montreal, he started three games, winning them all – including a 32-25 victory over Hamilton in which he threw three touchdowns.
But general manager Jim Popp was fired after the 2016 season and new GM Kavis Reed traded for veteran quarterback Darian Durant and Adams was suddenly on the outs.
“In this league, I feel like coaches have their guys,” Adams said. “They brought in Darian Durant and pretty much told me that I would never play there again.”
Sure enough, he was dealt to the Riders in August and served as a short-yardage quarterback during Saskatchewan’s playoff run. But again this off-season he found himself stuck behind the recently-acquired Zach Collaros and Canadian Brandon Bridge. So yet another trade, this time for future Hall-of-Famer Charleston Hughes, who was a Ticat for all of a few hours last Friday.
Adams acknowledges the changes have been difficult at times but feels a kinship with Jones, who coached him to an MVP performance in a college all-star game two years ago and pushed for the trade. He’s also long been an admirer of Masoli’s, to whom he reached out to when he first arrived in Montreal.
“You love when teams want you and I feel like June Jones wants me here, wants me to compete,” Adams said. “This is Jeremiah’s first opportunity to be guy and I’ll have his back and he’ll have mine.”
All this team-first, know-my-role talk from Adams strikes quite a contrast to Johnny Manziel, whose agent has made outlandish contract demands while more or less intimating that his client should be the starter. Manziel Tweeted last week about how many jerseys and tickets he would sell if he came to Hamilton.
Adams, who is active on social media and does not currently reside under a rock, is aware of the frenzy surrounding Manziel but offered little more than a shrug when asked about Johnny Football.
“If he does come here, cool; if he doesn’t, cool. It’s competition, that’s all it is,” Adams said. “He’s a great player but whatever happens, happens.”
The only sign of ego Adams displayed on Monday was his attire, a custom-made t-shirt that featured a photo of his own face. But closer examination revealed it to be a snapshot of both him and his three-and-a-half-year-old son Vernon Adams III: they received a matching father-and-son set as a Christmas present from grandma.
“We wore them for a couple days after we got them and when we went to the zoo in L.A.,” said Adams, who also has his son’s likeness tattooed on his arm. “He’s my motivation.”
Yeah, we’re going to like Vernon Adams just fine.