With two veteran running backs ahead of him on the depth chart, D.J. Adams just wanted to crack the playing rotation.
Senior Da’Rel Scott and junior Davin Meggett were proven runners, leaving Adams on the Maryland bench for long spells early this season. Slowly, the redshirt freshman from Norcross began to push his way into Maryland’s offensive plans.
Adams was at his best last weekend, rushing for three touchdowns in a 42-23 win over Virginia that kept the Terps in control of their own destiny in the ACC Atlantic Division. His 13 carries for 37 yards weren’t gaudy, but most of his yards were on tough inside runs as he’s developed into a short-yardage, goal-line and red-zone back because of his physical running style.
“Right now that’s my role on the team and it’s expanded throughout the year,” Adams said. “I was playing here and there and my role expanded from short yardage to goal line. It expanded to red zone. My role’s expanding and I’m trying to make the most of my opportunity.”
Adams traveled with the Terps last year but never played, taking a redshirt for his first fall without playing a game since he was a kid. It was tough, but he used the time to become a more complete back, mainly through hours of video study.
“It was weird, traveling and going through the whole game day experience, and not playing,” Adams said. “They prepared me like I was going to play with film work and everything. It was rough to sit and watch, but at the same time it was a great learning experience.”
It’s paying off for Maryland, particularly late in the season.
Adams has rushed for a team-best six TDs, using his strength to pick up the tough yards. He was named an Iron Terp this past spring after posting the eighth-best strength index on the team.
His role will be important the next few weeks for Maryland, which hosts Florida State today and then faces N.C. State. Wins in both games would get the Terps (7-3, 4-2) to their first ACC title game.
“We control our own destiny,” Adams said. “If we win (the last two), we’re in the (title game). If we win, we keep playing. So we’re playing each game like it’s a one-game season.”
In his first career start, Duluth grad Kennard Reeves carried 19 times for 105 yards last weekend vs. Kentucky. Teammates T.J. Greenstone of Collins Hill (seven tackles, one and a half for losses) and Jonathan Krause of South Gwinnett (three catches for 63 yards, 45-yard run) also played well. ... Mill Creek grad Trent Tignor, a freshman walk-on at East Carolina, has earned the starting holder job for a kicker who is 12 of 13 on field goals and 44 of 45 on PATs. He also is the backup punter for bowl-eligible ECU (6-4).
Clemson’s Dawson Zimmerman, a Brookwood grad, is one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award. He averages 43.6 yards per punt and is on pace for the fourth-best punting average in school history and the best since former NFL kicker Chris Gardocki averaged 44.5 in 1990. His net punting average of 41.8 has Clemson first in the ACC and 14th nationally in net punting. Opponents have just 75 total punt return yards this season off Zimmerman, who has boomed punts of 76 and 79 yards.
Campbellsville’s David Coffey, a Collins Hill grad, has helped his team to a 7-4 record and a berth in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Victory Bowl today. Coffey, a center, has started every game of his college career, a current streak of 33 games. ... Justin Roper of Buford completed 14 of 22 passes for 231 yards last week in Montana’s 27-17 win over North Dakota, keeping his team’s playoff hopes alive.
Jukes gets award
South Gwinnett grad Avery Jukes, a senior on Butler’s NCAA runner-up basketball team earlier this year, was honored Thursday with the Outstanding Young Adult Award at the Association of Fundraising Professionals/Indiana Chapter awards dinner. Peyton Manning and his wife Ashley also received an award at the event.
In addition to basketball, Jukes was active with humanitarian efforts during his college career through his Jukes Foundation for Kids. Jukes graduated in May with a math degree and is working on his second degree at Butler, this one in mechanical engineering.
Buford grad Blanche Alverson scored the first basket in Auburn’s new arena last week — a 3-pointer 56 seconds into the game — as the Tigers defeated Mercer 79-61. The sophomore scored 11 points in the victory, then had a career-high 16 points in the Tigers’ next game, a narrow loss to No. 16 Florida State.
North Gwinnett’s Abby Slocumb, a freshman at Georgia College and State University, had eight points and six rebounds in her first college game, a win over Anderson. ... Berkmar’s Wesley Witherspoon had 24 points and career-high 12 rebounds this week in a 94-79 Memphis win over Northwestern. He made 5 of 7 field goals and 13 or 14 free throws.
Meadowcreek grad Teondre Williams, a sophomore at Oregon, had 15 points and eight rebounds in an opening win over North Dakota State, then added 10 points two days later in win over UC-Santa Barbara. ... D’Nay Daniels, a senior from Greater Atlanta Christian, had 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds, but Central Florida still lost its opener to Florida 77-67.
Parkview grad Sczeny Hartry had 12 points, four assists and three steals in Valdosta State’s season-opening win over Edward Waters. ... Armstrong Atlantic sophomore Jazmin Walker, a Collins Hill grad, made 7 of 11 shots and scored a team-high 19 points as her team beat Converse College in the season opener. She also grabbed seven rebounds.
Maurer, Brettschneider get academic honors
South Carolina soccer players Jimmy Maurer, a first-team selection, and Blake Brettschneider, a third-team selection, were named to the ESPN Academic All-American Team this week. Maurer, a Lawrenceville resident, went to St. Pius and Brettschneider is a Parkview grad.
Walsh has best finish
Peachtree Ridge grad Jack Walsh continued his hot start to the college golf season this week, posting his second straight top-10 finish at the Hummingbird Intercollegiate. The Western Carolina freshman tied for sixth with rounds of even-par 71 and 1-under 70.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.