Back in the lineup, Adams returns with big-play ability intact

Scooter Adams burst onto the college football scene during the COVID-delayed Spring 2021 season like one of his many explosive runs.

The six-game appetizer portended great things for Adams, who was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection after shredding defenses for 681 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in the shortened campaign.

Four games into his encore season, however, Adams found himself on the sideline with an injury that short-circuited what should have been his first full season in a Northwestern State uniform.

The same scenario seemed to play four games into the 2022 season, forcing Adams to miss games at Eastern Illinois and Houston Christian this past month.

Adams, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound speedster, had other ideas and showed as much, returning to the NSU lineup against then-No. 16/18 SEMO on Oct. 22, delivering an 84-yard touchdown catch – his second scoring grab of 80 or more yards this season.

“It feels good to be able to go out there and not worry about being injured,” Adams said. “We all go through adversity. I had a hard time at first.”

Instead of facing another second half of a season on the sidelines, Adams fought his way back, gaining a new perspective on the game.

Additionally, the product of Hallettsville, Texas, and Kilgore College found his voice.

“I don’t know if you can benefit from being injured, but him being able to see the whole picture has really made him a better leader on this football team,” fifth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “He’s not the most vocal person, but we’ve seen the little things that he picked up while he was hurt. When you watch somebody work so hard to get back and then have another setback, that’s the adversity we talk about. They’re enduring it in a college football setting, but it’s going to happen to them in life, too.”

While Adams is listed as a running back, he has had as much of an impact in the passing game in 2022 than at any point in his first two seasons in a Demon uniform.

Adams caught 34 passes in 10 games in the spring and fall of 2021 but failed to reach the end zone. Entering Saturday’s matchup with Texas A&M-Commerce (5-3, 3-1 Southland), Adams ranks third on the Demon roster with three touchdown catches.

The average distance of those touchdown grabs? 61.3 yards.

“He is a big play,” Laird said. “He can hit at any time through the air or on the ground. That’s something we need, especially down the stretch with the three big games coming up down the stretch. He’s a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.”

The first of those three games for the Demons, who lead the Southland with a 3-0 conference record, comes Saturday near where Adams made his mark as a running back at Kilgore College.

Along with former Demon linebacker Adrion Robertson, Adams helped build a pipeline from Kilgore to Northwestern State, which features five former Kilgore College Rangers on its 2022 roster, including three running backs.

That familiarity keeps East Texas at the forefront of the unofficial Kilgore East alumni group.

“All the time,” Adams said with a grin when asked about how often their shared JUCO home comes up in conversation.

“We always go back to the ‘Dirty K’ days, talking about coach (Willie) Gooden and the MTXE (mental toughness, extra effort) motto.”

Adams’ multifaceted skills were on display at Kilgore College where he caught 12 passes in his sophomore season, including a pair of scoring grabs.

Being able to spring a long run – Adams’ career-best is a 65-yarder at UIW on April 10, 2021 – or make a long touchdown catch are equally exciting and important to Adams.

Said Adams: “As long as I’m doing what I have to do to help our team win, I’m fine.”

Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services