Tight end Adams poised to become
key contributor for Penguins
By Joe Scalzo
He’s got a 50-cent haircut on top of his million-dollar brain. (Teammate Carson Sharbaugh cuts it for him, although shaving his head, then waiting a month would accomplish the same look.)
He’s on track to graduate with a pre-business finance degree in 31/2 years and he’s best known as a catch-first tight end, but he’s blue-collar enough to go sleeveless through Thursday’s chilly outdoor practice, then look insulted when you ask him about it.
“I’m from Ohio,” he said. “I can’t be wearing sleeves.”
He’s played in 21 of 22 games over the past two years and he caught two touchdowns last season but he was lost in the shadow of future NFLer Will Shaw.
His name is Nate Adams and unless you’re a serious Penguin fan, you probably don’t know him.
But you will.
“He’s got a chance to be a really good football player,” YSU coach Eric Wolford.
Adams, who went to the same high school (Newark Catholic) as offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery, could be a breakout offensive player this fall. A “natural” receiver (Wolford’s word), the 6-foot-5, 255 pounder finally has the strength to hold his own as a blocker in YSU’s run-first offense.
“It all starts in the weight room,” said Adams, who has added 30 pounds of muscle since arriving in Youngstown. “You’ve got a lot of big guys in Division I football, but if you keep hitting the weight room, the run-blocking part will come.
“It all comes down to technique. The other guy might be bigger or stronger, but if you’re in the right position and have the right leverage, the low man always wins.”
Adams, a three-sport athlete in high school, redshirted in 2010 after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. After a strong performance in the 2011 spring game, he injured his lower back and saw limited action that fall, catching one pass in 10 games.
Shaw’s development limited his playing time last fall, but Adams still caught seven passes for 96 yards, including a touchdown in the 13-10 win over South Dakota.
“I think it was really good to have Will here,” Adams said. “He’s a real hard worker. Between him and [tight end] Carson Sharbaugh, it’s been nice to have two older guys to be able to kind of pave the way for me.
“Watching their work ethic has helped me a lot on and off the field.”
Shaw led the team in every receiving category last year and while it’s unlikely Adams will match that production, he figures to be a big target in the offense this fall.
“Coach Montgomery likes to keep it really balanced, which makes it fun for all positions,” Adams said. “Especially at tight end, you get the best of both worlds. They kind of run smash-mouth football, but at the same time you’re gonna get in some passes and get in the end zone hopefully.”