Adams aims for No. 1
When he started playing football at age seven, Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly Co.) was bigger and faster than his peers, so he was used at running back. He enjoyed the position, and according to him, was really good at it. A fan of USC, Adams had visions of becoming the next Reggie Bush. In sixth grade, he was told he was too young to play and was forced to sit out. The following year, he was placed on the defensive line because he had outgrown the position. With his dreams suddenly sidetracked, Adams made it a point to take out his frustration on opposing quarterbacks and running backs in the backfield. In 2009, he entered high school ready to make his mark.
After four games, Adams had yet to see the field. He remembers it like it was yesterday.
"The next week of practice, I worked really hard thinking I was about to get some playing time," Adams said.
Adams wouldn't play again that year. Dooly County went 4-6, and head coach Darryl Silas resigned in the spring.
"Maybe I was not ready, maybe it was a good thing," Adams said. "It gave me the motivation to prove it my sophomore year. I wanted to show them I could play at that level."
Adams did not disappoint, making 73 tackles, nine sacks and 17 tackles for loss the following year while starting 11 games. According to new head coach Jimmy Hughes, he was easily the most dominant player on the team. The following summer, Adams was invited to camp at FSU, then Georgia, and then Alabama. He had an outstanding junior season, with 84 tackles, an astounding 45 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks.
Clemson was the first program to offer Adams. Then, during the winter, the floodgates opened.
"I thought I had a chance in 10th grade, but really it hit me in 11th grade that I might be able to fulfill my dreams," Adams said. "I have always wanted a chance to play in the NFL."
Hughes has worked with plenty of players who have gone on to play football at the FBS level. Some of his teams have sent multiple players to major colleges in the same year. But he had yet to see a prospect like Adams -- nor had he experienced such a hectic recruitment.
"To say that it has been overwhelming would be an understatement," Hughes said. "I think with the explosion of the Internet, social media, Twitter and Facebook, recruiting has really changed. Back in the day, schools would come to your school and say, 'Coach, do you have any players this year?' They already know where all of the players are now."
Adams picked up more than 20 offers during the spring, with college coaches coming by the school almost every day during the evaluation period. Recently Hughes says it has become easier to handle, because his star player has unofficially narrowed down his choices.
"I do not know that he has officially narrowed it down, but in reality he has," Hughes said. "The feedback that the schools have received from him, they know he is not going to go that far away from the South."
It would seem that getting in early with Adams, whom Hughes said last measured in at 6-foot-4 and 311 pounds, has paid off for a few programs.
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Hughes said Adams has handled the attention fairly well for a teenager, but the coach and his assistants have done their best to guide him and monitor what he is exposed to.
The experience has allowed Adams and his family to see some new places. He has taken visits this year to Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan State and Tennessee. His mom accompanied him on two visits so far, both to Auburn.
"She liked it and she wants to see some more schools," Adams said. "She is happy for everything that has happened for me. She thought I would have a chance to go to college but she told me the other day she never thought it would be this big."
The Tigers have piqued Adams' interest, as he has followed the career of a recent Auburn standout at his position.
"I like Auburn," Adams said. "It is a great school and I would love to go there and play at the same school as one of my favorite defensive linemen in Nick Fairley. I would love to do what he did at the college level. Also Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) is my boy, and we have been talking for a while."
The Tigers' biggest competition could come from the Tigers to the east in Clemson. With Dabo Swinney and his staff offering first, Clemson has built up a strong relationship with Adams. The commitments this summer of No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Scott Pagano (Honolulu/Moanalua) have Clemson in place to possibly bring in the best defensive line in the country during the 2013 recruiting cycle. Adams is contemplating joining that group.
"I thought Nkemdiche would go to Clemson," Adams said. "It really does not affect me that he is there, but I really would not mind playing with him because he is a great player."
But don't count out the in-state program just yet.
"Georgia definitely has a shot," Adams said. "I love Georgia, all of the coaches and all of the players. I know a lot of the players in Georgia committed there like Brandon Kublanow (Marietta, Ga./Walton), Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga./Newnan) and Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), so I already have good relationships with them and it just reminds me that I like how the program is family-based. I spoke to Scott Lakatos a few days ago, and he really wants me to get my mom up to Athens to stay for a couple of days."
The plan for Adams is to keep his options open until after his football season, where he would then name a top six. He plans to take his official visits during and after his senior season. LSU, Oregon and USC are the only three he knows of for sure, because they are places he would not be able to visit on his own. A signing-day decision is expected.
"It has been fun and I want to enjoy the process because you only get to experience this once," Adams said. "I want to find a place that feels like home and I want my mom to like the school, the coaches and the players."
The school year started Monday at Dooly County, allowing Adams the chance to put recruiting on the backburner and focus on his senior year, which includes goals of helping his team win region, make more than 100 tackles and make the A/B honor roll.
On Tuesday, Adams celebrated his 17th birthday by becoming the latest addition to the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
"It is an honor to have a player on my team be chosen to play in the Under Armour All-America Game," Hughes said. "From looking at last year and this year's roster, it seems to be the most elite players in the country are playing in that game. I think for him to get a good barometer for where he is at, he needs to be on the field with them. The game will only last a couple of hours, but the time they spend on the practice field getting top-notch coaching and competition will be invaluable. I am confident he will do well."
Nkemdiche will join him on the field, and Hughes and Adams are looking forward to seeing how the two players match up.
"I think it will help me prepare for the next level," Adams said." I have never met Robert Nkemdiche but I am ready to see if he is really No. 1."
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