Eastern Washington transfer quarterback Vernon Adams is finally officially a member of the Oregon football team. Could Adams do the unthinkable and go from the FCS to a Heisman winner? He is +3000 to win it on 5Dimes NCAA football odds.
We've known for several months that Adams was going to transfer to Oregon from that FCS powerhouse program, and Adams was one of the best players in that lower level over the past three seasons, including twice finishing as the runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, given to the FCS' best offensive player, and twice been named the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year.
Adams wasn't officially a graduate student at Oregon until late last week as he had to pass a math test, which allowed him to enroll in a graduate program at the university and join the Ducks on the field. If he hadn't passed, he wasn't going to be playing with Oregon this season. He had failed a math class at EWU that prevented him from graduating and forced him to enroll in summer classes at Oregon in order to complete the transfer. Think there was any pressure on that teacher to pass Adams?
Originally, Adams wanted to be on Oregon's campus in June to participate in summer workouts. But since he didn't EWU's graduation requirements during the spring academic quarter, that pushed everything back. In addition, Ducks coaches told him he could not work out with his future teammates in any unofficial capacity until he was officially a member of the team. So Adams had been throwing with friends.
Locke Likely In Lead
It's no lock that Adams even wins Oregon's job to try and fill the very big shoes of 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft. Adams obviously felt pretty confident about his chances because he chose to transfer to Oregon over UCLA, Texas and a few other big-time FBS programs.
Adams is battling Mariota's backup from the past two seasons, junior Jeff Lockie. Clearly he has a huge head start in terms of knowing the system and already is considered a leader in the locker room. In two years as a reserve, Lockie has attempted just 41 passes. In the spring game, he was 9-for-9 for 223 yards and three touchdowns while leading his team to a 35-29 victory.
So far, everyone is saying good things about Adams in camp despite him missing the first four practices of the fall. He is not allowed by school policy to speak to the media before the season opener, which is against, ironically, Eastern Washington.
“He’s been playing the last three years at Eastern Washington, and you can definitely tell he’s confident,” Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen said recently. “I told a couple guys he looks like a robot out there. He finds it and launches it; it’s kind of like a missile. It’s exciting.”
"Vernon's doing a great job," offensive coordinator Scott Frost said Monday. "He doesn't show signs of being rusty and doesn't show signs of being out of shape."
You could see Oregon playing both Adams and Lockie against Eastern Washington, but I doubt the Ducks feel comfortable rotating those guys in Week 2 at Michigan State in one of the non-conference games of the season. Adams provides more upside, but Lockie probably would be more steady in the early going with his knowledge of the offense and his receivers. Can Adams really be ready in only three weeks? The Pac-12 schedule starts on Sept. 26 in Autzen Stadium against Utah. That's probably the final cutoff point for using two QBs.
Lockie doesn't have any Heisman odds. It's not unprecedented for a school to have back-to-back Heisman winners. Southern Cal did it in 2004 with QB Matt Leinart and 2005 with running back Reggie Bush, although Bush's has been wiped from the record books because of his NCAA violations. Of course Ohio State kept the Heisman Trophy in consecutive years when running back Archie Griffin won in 1974 & '75. Army had running back Doc Blanchard win in 1945 and fellow back Glenn Davis the next year. Yale end Larry Kelley won the second-ever Heisman in 1936 and QB Clifton Frank the following season.
Probably the biggest transfer success in recent memory was Russell Wilson at Wisconsin in 2011. He set several school records after arriving from NC State and led the Badgers to a Big Ten title and spot in the Rose Bowl, where UW lost to Oregon.
NCAAF Free Pick: Adams might be a good player and maybe if he had been with Oregon all summer he might be worth a Heisman long-shot look. But not with only three weeks to absorb everything.