Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Vernon Adams has been the face of the FCS early in the 2013 season.
The theme to the season has been FCS teams, which are full of players who might have been overlooked by FBS programs, going out and beating some of those same, larger teams. It's happened 13 times in the first three weekends of play, tying a single-season record.
Adams never received a scholarship offer from a FBS coach. But there the sophomore quarterback for Eastern Washington University was on the opening weekend of the season, picking apart nationally ranked Oregon State with his right arm and legs in a show-stopping performance.
Adams, having totaled 518 yards and six touchdowns in the win, including the game-winning score with 18 seconds to play, drew national attention and player of the week awards following the 49-46 upset.
Now the season is settling in and Adams is focused more on defeating FCS competition. His No. 2-ranked Eagles hope to settle a score on Sept. 28 when they travel to Texas to face No. 5 Sam Houston State in a rematch of last season's national playoff semifinal - a 45-42 EWU loss despite Adams' six touchdown passes in the second half, when he nearly rallied the Eagles from a 35-0 halftime deficit.
The Eagles will then set their sights on winning another Big Sky Conference title and perhaps the FCS national championship, which they captured after the 2010 regular season while Adams was a senior at a private Catholic school outside his hometown of Pasadena, Calif.
A dual-threat who fits comfortably into the long line of top quarterbacks at Eastern Washington, Adams could soon find himself as a Walter Payton Award candidate - one capable of beating FBS opponents, but more content on being the best at the FCS level.
In Five-a-Side - In the FCS Huddle's monthly feature of "five questions, five answers" with an influential person in the FCS - Adams discusses his growing legacy at Eastern Washington.
Let's kick off:
TSN: The Sam Houston playoff game was so incredible, the back-and-forth nature of it. Can you go back and describe the game?
VA: Ah, man, it was top three of my favorite games playing in ever. Not that the fact that we lost, but being in that atmosphere. We were down 35-0 and the crowd was just going crazy. I didn't start the first half. Their defense was doing really good. They got a pick-six and their offense was on fire, zone read and scoring a lot. We went inside the locker room, we weren't panicking or nothing, we just knew what we had to do because we were messing ourselves up. We came out second half firing, and the next thing you know, it's 35-42 and then it's 45-42. Man, we just need one more stop to help us get another touchdown or tie the game up. We didn't get it, but, man, that game was just so much fun. We owe those guys. I just hope we can work hard enough this week and next week and, hopefully, beat those guys and continue to go to our Big Sky and national championship run.
TSN: What was it like to be a rock star following the Oregon State win?
VA: (He laughs) It was kind of crazy, getting all that attention. I'm not going to lie, I've never had attention like that before in my life. I'm just so humble and thankful that God has blessed me with the talents he's blessed me with. Like I said before, I can never do it without ... it starts with my center, then my O-line with them protecting me, my running backs catching and running hard and my receivers - my great receivers, some of them are going to be All-Americans this year - them making me look better than what I really am. My whole offense.
TSN: After you helped out at the Russell Wilson Passing Academy this past summer, obviously the comparison will be made between you and Russell. Is that accurate, is it not accurate, and why?
VA: You can say it's pretty accurate. He's more of a pocket passer, I guess. I like to throw a lot, too, but I'm looking at my first, second and third reads, and I'm trying to get out of there. Him, he actually stays in the pocket, he can actually move around in the pocket. Me, I get flushed out really quick because I just like to get out of there. As in runners, I feel like neither one of us likes to take hits, so I feel like we're the same there. His arm is definitely stronger than mine now that he's in the NFL. He's about 210 (pounds), I'm only 195. I just have to keep working. Hopefully, I can be as good as him one day and I'll back him up for the Seahawks.
TSN: You redshirted while Bo Levi Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award. What is what like when he brought the Payton bust back to campus?
VA: He's a humble guy. It was great. It was great for the program, he brought it back. He did it with great receivers. He was just amazing that year. He threw for like 4,000 yards, so many touchdowns. It was a crazy year for him. Looking up to him, he taught me a lot about the offense. He helped me learn the offense a lot faster than what a regular quarterback would learn. That was awesome. I still keep in touch with him; he's a good friend of mine.
TSN: How much of a culture shock was it moving from Pasadena to Cheney, Wash.?
VA: Oh, it was a big culture shock because I'm just so used to the city, everything moving so fast. I come out here, it's a lot slower, the air is more clear because down in L.A., it's the smog everywhere. We get all the seasons up here in Cheney - rain, snow, shine, all that. It's just awesome, I love it up here. I've got a lot of country friends out here now; I didn't really know too much about the country until I came up here. That's awesome, I've got the best of both worlds now.
TSN: (OK, an extra question) What's circled on your calendar, Jan. 1 for the Rose Bowl or Jan. 4 for the FCS Championship Game?
VA: Jan. 4, definitely.