There aren’t any other guys on the Michigan football team from North Carolina. In fact. strong safety Jamar Adams has always been a Tar Heel. But when it came time to choose a university, Adams prayed and decided to make his way north. The sophomore said that secondary coach Ron English was the main reason he came to Ann Arbor.
“I thought he was the best defensive back coach around, and I just wanted to work with him,” Adams said. “To me, he was a true man. He has taught me so much about just being a man not only on the football field but also off the football field as well.”
One of the most important lessons – at least last week – was simply “eyes inside.” Late in the fourth quarter, Iowa had driven the length of the field and was down inside Michigan’s 20-yard line, looking to win the game. It was third-and-two, and a first down would have given the Hawkeyes three more shots at the end zone. It was then that Adams made, according to Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, one of the most important plays of the game – maybe of the season.
Adams was in man-to-man coverage on the tight end, who was blocking him to the outside.
“When I saw him block out, I could hear coach E’s voice in my head, ‘Eyes inside son,’ and that’s what I did,” Adams said. “I got my eyes inside, and I was able to make the play.”
Adams stopped the play that was developing – a shovel-pass to running back Albert Young. It was a play that is very difficult to contain for less than two yards, Carr said. But Adams, just a sophomore, stopped it almost single-handedly for a loss of one.
“I have seen seniors that busted that,” Carr said. “For a young guy to make that play speaks highly of his ability to concentrate and, under pressure, execute in a disciplined way.”
For Adams, this season has been all about discipline. The young safety had to stay focused despite the fact that he didn’t win the starting job coming out of camp. Adams battled with junior Brandent Englemon for the spot at strong safety, but, in the end, Englemon won out. Adams said that – through everything – he always believed he would get his opportunity.
“I think, in practice, I continued to practice hard and my coaches continued to push me,” Adams said. “So, I knew that they believed in me and continued to push me. I knew my chance would come.”
For the year, Adams has 21 tackles (17 solo) plus one pass breakup and one tackle for loss. He has been solid pretty much all year, solidifying a secondary that is playing with just one returning starter.
When Englemon went down with an injury during the Minnesota game, Adams filled in. He’s had played some snaps throughout season, but his work the last couple of weeks as a starter has been a step up.
He couldn’t pinpoint exactly when, but Carr said he saw a change in Adams a few weeks into the season. For the first few weeks, Carr said Adams was playing tentatively at safety.
“Somewhere along the line, it all became clear for him, and the clutter was gone and he was able to go in and play within the system,” Carr said.
Maybe it’s another way coach English has helped to mold this Michigan Tar Heel.