Story on Darvin Adams
By Jay G. Tate
AUBURN -- Cornerback Walter McFadden uses a different approach when a drill requires him to cover the team's leading receiver.
Darvin Adams provides a unique challenge.
The sophomore has emerged as the Tigers' top receiving option this season, proving his worth with a three-touchdown performance against West Virginia last week. Yet Adams' method is far from normal.
He outworks defenders. That's his best asset.
``He's not the greatest receiver. He's not the fastest receiver. He's just not," McFadden said. ``When you look at him on film, though, he's a threat. He works hard. You can't put nothing past him. His routes may not be the best, his hands may not be the best, but he's going to give you 100 percent on every play. And that's something I know about."
Adams is a throwback.
In a world dominated by combine-enhanced reputations, Auburn's top receiver figures effort remains a valuable commodity. Adams, who stands 6-foot-3, weighs only 185 pounds and rarely pulls away from any similarly proportioned defenders.
He doesn't need break-away speed.
Adams knows how to create a head start. He understands coverages, identifies their weaknesses in real time and exploits them by moving into position without pause. He's a useful blocker. He's a productive special-teams contributor.
Still, he's not a household name.
Adams' low-key game has yielded little exposure. Even his work against the Mountaineers, which included a nifty one-handed grab in the end zone, has earned him little respect across the league.
He doesn't mind. He's not into self-promotion.
``I see myself as helping this team out," Adams said. ``If I have to play special teams every down -- if I get one catch for negative-2 yards and we get a win -- I'm still happy. I'm just out there to do whatever it takes for this team to win."
That's not idle chatter.
Adams arrived on campus last summer after choosing Auburn over Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, Tennessee and South Carolina. He soon found himself out of contention for a full-time gig at receiver, so he asked to help on coverage teams.
He was a natural. Adams worked on punt coverage, kickoff coverage and punt return as a freshman last season. He showed no fear and impressed coaches with his tenacity.
The Tigers' new staff, hired last winter, reached a similar conclusion.
Adams' unassuming nature blends well with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who asks that players limit their trash talking toward opponents. He wants emotions express with hits -- not taunts.
That's fine with Adams. He's been following that rule all along.
``In the spring, he showed a lot of toughness," Malzahn said. ``He made plays. He was tough. We just felt like: This guy here, we can count on him. We knew he was a guy who had a chance."
Adams creates chances by following the plan. His routes aren't flawless, but he's always headed in the correct direction. He's where he's supposed to be at any given moment, which helps him stand out among a corps of freshman receivers who often find themselves astray.
In that sense, Adams is a role model.
``He has a knack for getting open and he's so long," tight end Tommy Trott said. ``He gets the balls you don't think he's going to get."
Adams doesn't spend time comparing this season to 2008. So what that he's already caught 15 balls after catching three last year? Or that his receiving yards already have dwarfed his 2008 numbers?
He learned a lot last season.
He's not looking back.
``Sometimes, you have to sit back and wait your turn," Adams said. ``I tried to help the team out on special teams as a freshman. I was just waiting for my turn to get out there."
Photo credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn University