Photo and photo illustration by Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
By his own admission, former Ohio State football left tackle Mike Adams is in an awkward stage of his playing career.
“I don’t really belong to any team,” Adams told The Lantern during a Tuesday interview. “It’s kind of like you’re watching and working to make sure that the dreams live on that we’ve had since we were little kids.”
Based on how Adams’ week of preparation for Saturday’s Senior Bowl has gone so far, as well as the expectations of one ESPN college football analyst, this awkward stage shouldn’t last too long.
A three-year starter for the Buckeyes and a first team all-Big Ten selection in 2010, Adams is strapping on his Scarlet and Gray helmet for the final time this week as he prepares for Saturday’s showcase game in Mobile, Ala.
“It’s going great,” Adams said of the two days of practice he’s had this week. “Definitely a blessing to be down here. It’s a great opportunity to get out and compete with all these other great college football players.”
Adams is recently removed from an OSU career that featured highs and lows.
He played in a total of 31 total games during his time as a Buckeye, including 23 starts.
Adams was suspended the first five games of the 2011 season after he was found to have sold OSU football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Suspended along with Adams were former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor, defensive end Solomon Thomas, and Senior Bowl teammates wide receiver DeVier Posey and running back Daniel “Boom” Herron.
Despite the suspension, Adams was awarded the 2011 Jim Parker Award as the Buckeyes’ outstanding offensive lineman. He shared the honor with another former OSU player and Senior Bowl teammate, center Michael Brewster.
If the award he received during a suspension-shortened season wasn’t enough proof of his talent, ESPN analyst Todd McShay said Adams was the Buckeyes’ top draft prospect despite the suspension during a November interview with The Lantern.
“I think Adams is probably the highest-rated (OSU player),” McShay said. “He’s had his ups and downs … He’s good enough to play at right tackle in the NFL.”
Adams has continued to improve his draft appeal to NFL franchises this week as he has practiced against top defensive linemen from around the country, including former Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford, former Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson and former Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry, the 2011 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.
“It’s exciting and it’s definitely been a great experience so far,” Adams said of the competition he’s faced. “It’s awesome. It’s just a blessing to be here.”
Adams said his main goal was to learn from the Senior Bowl North team’s coaching staff, which is comprised of coaches from the Minnesota Vikings.
“One of my goals from the technical side was definitely to just learn from the Vikings coaching staff and be able to implement the things into my game that they teach me,” Adams said.
Adams has implemented the Vikings’ staff’s teachings well, according to a report from Sports Illustrated draft expert Tony Pauline.
Pauline noted Adams’ performance in his notebook-style story on the Senior Bowl practices on cnnsi.com, saying:
“What’s so impressive about (tackle) Mike Adams of Ohio State is the way he easily moves his 330-pound frame around the field,” Pauline said. “Even this morning, when asked to block in motion, Adams quickly gets out to the second level and is able to adjust and block linebackers thanks to his agility.”
In trying to keep his childhood dream of playing professional football alive, Adams said he aims to make himself even more of a presence on the field this week.
“I just want to go out there and compete and perform well,” Adams said, “and make myself known as one of the better offensive tackles in this draft class.”
Saturday’s Senior Bowl kicks off in Mobile at Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 3 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on the NFL Network.
Michael Periatt contributed to this story.
This story is the second in a four-part series about the four former Ohio State football players who will compete in the 2012 Senior Bowl. Read tomorrow’s sports section in The Lantern for the third installment in the series.