LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -Joe Adams is the one who didn't get away.
He was expected to go to Southern California - all the way up until signing day when he picked Arkansas instead. Now, the confident wide receiver is playing regularly for the Razorbacks and making an immediate impact.
``You don't see many freshmen that come in and see them comfortable on the field,'' tight end D.J. Williams said. ``You always see them walking around maybe running the wrong route or being hesitant about things, but he gets it. When he gets the ball he's not hesitant about anything - he'll run and go for contact or make a move.''
Adams was a star at Central Arkansas Christian in North Little Rock, making The Associated Press Super Team as a defensive back last season. He was an offensive force too, and when he announced last August he was heading to USC, it appeared the Razorbacks had lost yet another highly touted prospect to coach Pete Carroll and the Trojans.
USC after playing at Arkansas as freshmen.
When Bobby Petrino took over as Arkansas' coach in December, everyone knew the Razorbacks would throw more than they had under Houston Nutt. Petrino still had a chance to land Adams before his commitment became binding.
``He was on his way to California, and we were fortunate (assistant coach) Tim Horton did such a good job of recruiting him the whole time he was committed to them,'' Petrino said. ``We had a shot at him. Then it was just selling him that we were going to throw the ball and put the ball in his hands and he'd have a chance to make plays.''
On signing day, Adams announced he would become a Razorback.
``It was very hard to tell Pete Carroll that I wasn't coming, because he's one of the dominating coaches in college football right now,'' Adams said. ``The whole coaching staff tried to talk me out of staying - they wanted me to come out there really bad.''
Adams stayed close to home, and so far he's been a welcome addition to an Arkansas team that lacks experienced receivers. Adams has caught 18 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown.
He caught seven passes for 89 yards in a win over Louisiana-Monroe last month to earn Southeastern Conference freshman of the week honors.
etic ability and his ability to run and elevate while he's running full speed, and make catches above his head and run after the catch - that's what excited me so much, is his ability to run after the catch.''
Petrino is concerned that Adams has been fatigued during practice, which isn't abnormal for a freshman. In games, however, Adams has been ready.
Williams, Arkansas' leading receiver this season, isn't surprised. He went to CAC as well, but is a year older than Adams.
``I've known Joe since high school - he was a big-time player there,'' Williams said. ``If you watch game film he went from just making a catch to now making a catch and getting yards after it, going across the middle making huge catches. And I think he's just going to progress and become that impact, dominant highlight-maker player that he was in high school.''
Right now, the Razorbacks need to be patient. They've lost three in a row, and it might be a little while before these young players form an SEC title contender. Meanwhile, out west, USC is still one of the top teams in the nation.
Does Adams wonder what might have been?
``Everybody has thoughts like that when they turn down a big college like that,'' Adams said. ``But I'm playing good right now, and I'm getting the ball as a freshman. I think I made a good decision.''
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