Appalachian State head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz announced Sunday the hiring of title-winning offensive assistant Junior Adams, who spent the last two seasons as the offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Western Kentucky.
“Junior is a great developer of wide receivers with championship experience,” said Drinkwitz, who worked alongside Adams at Boise State in 2014 and 2015. “He is a tremendous recruiter who can identify talent and develop that talent at the highest level. We are excited to welcome Junior and his family to the App Family.”
Adams, who has coached in the postseason in eight of the last 10 years, was part of two conference championships in three years at Boise State after he helped Eastern Washington win a national championship as its receivers coach in 2010. Following a 2016 season as the receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Boise State, which had the first pair of 1,000-yard receivers in school history, he became the offensive coordinator for Western Kentucky.
Among the standout receivers Adams has coached in recent years are Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams, Cedrick Wilson of the Dallas Cowboys and Thomas Sperbeck, who is Boise State’s all-time leader in receiving yards.
A standout college receiver who earned All-America honors as a senior at Montana State after being a member of Oregon State’s conference championship team that won the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, the 39-year-old Adams also has NFL experience from working training camps with the Oakland Raiders (2010), Indianapolis Colts (2011) and Minnesota Vikings (2012) as a recipient of grants from the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.
“I am thankful to be joining the Appalachian State football family,” Adams said. “It is a program rich in tradition, sportsmanship and winning. I know Coach Drinkwitz is an asset to the program, players and community. I’m excited to get going on the 2019 App State football season.”
When Adams took over the offense at Western Kentucky, which returned only two players who had caught at least 25 passes the previous season, Nacarius Fant had the fifth-best season in school history with 75 receptions and former walk-on Deon Yelder emerged as a record-setting tight end with 52 catches for 688 yards. Yelder received an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl that year, and the Hilltoppers’ quarterback, Mike White, also appeared at the Senior Bowl after completing an FBS-high 368 passes for 4,177 yards (fourth nationally) as a senior.
Under Adams’ direction, Boise State's passing game and wide receivers set numerous records. In 2016, the Broncos ranked 15th nationally with 298.3 passing yards per game to go along with top-10 rankings in passer rating (No. 9, 161.38) and yards per pass attempt (No. 7, 9.6). Wilson developed into one of the nation's top big-play threats with a yards-per-catch average of 20.2 that ranked No. 8 nationally, and Sperbeck also surpassed 1,000 receiving yards to make Boise State one of only four teams with a pair of 1,000-yard receivers that season.
In 2015, with Drinkwitz coordinating Boise State’s offense and Adams coaching the receivers, quarterback Brett Rypien threw for 304.9 yards per game and the Broncos rushed for 191.4 yards per game as the team ranked 15th nationally at 501.3 total yards per contest.
In Adams' five seasons with Eastern Washington from 2009-13, the team finished in the top 10 in the FCS in passing offense four times, ranking No. 1 in 2011 with 368.4 passing yards per game. The 2013 team had two players rank in the top 10 in receiving yardage, led by current NFL standout Kupp and his FCS-leading 1,691 yards with 21 touchdowns as a freshman. Kupp won the Jerry Rice Award as the top FCS freshman and joined Randy Moss as the only other freshman receiver since 1990 to earn first-team FCS All-America honors early in a career that concluded with him winning the Walter Payton Award as the top FCS player.
Adams developed four other 1,000-yard receivers at EWU, including Brandon Kaufman, who broke the FCS receiving record with 1,850 yards during the program’s national title season in 2010.
As a player, Adams caught 66 passes for 983 yards and eight touchdowns as a Montana State senior in 2002. He had the game-winning touchdown against rival Montana in a 10-7 victory that helped the Bobcats earn a share of the Big Sky Conference title.
He remained at MSU to serve as a wide receivers and returns coach, then spent the 2007 season in the same capacity at Prosser (Wash.) High School, where he helped head coach Tom Moore’s team go 14-0 and win the WIAA 2-A state title. He left Moore, the father of record-setting Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, and spent one season at Chattanooga in 2008 before starting his successful run at Eastern Washington.
Born on Oct. 20, 1979, Adams’ full name is Alton J. Adams Jr. He graduated from Montana State in 2004 with a degree in sociology.
L.A. Rams WR Cooper Kupp on Adams…
“I’ve had many coaches throughout my career as a football player, but none have had a greater impact on me than Coach Adams. His ability to coach the wide receiver position is unmatched due to his knowledge of the game as a whole, as well as his ability to maximize the potential of every one of his players both physically and mentally. The best there is.”
Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson on Adams…
“Coach Adams is one of the best wide receiver coaches I have had. He taught me the majority of my technique that I use today. He is also the greatest players' coach I have ever had, on and off the field.”
Dallas Cowboys QB Mike White on Adams…
“App State is getting a great one in Coach Adams. As far as transferring his knowledge of the game from the meeting room to the field, he is one of the best I’ve been around. I enjoyed playing for Coach Adams, and I know the guys at App State will too.”