As a junior college transfer who arrived at Northwestern State ahead of the 2020 football season, Scooter Adams long since should have left town.
Adams, a running back from Hallettsville, Texas, however started his fourth season in a Demon uniform this past Saturday by doing what he has done best the past season-plus – making a big play in the passing game.
This time, it was a 47-yard touchdown catch on Northwestern State’s final offensive snap of its season-opening 38-13 loss at UL Lafayette. It was Adams’ fourth touchdown catch – all of which covered at least 20 yards — in his past nine games.
Adams’ four touchdown catches include an 84-yarder against Southeast Missouri State in 2022 that is tied for the sixth-longest passing play in school history.
“I would say it’s always been there,” Adams said of his receiving prowess. “Now, we’re using that asset more. In high school, as a freshman, I started playing receiver. I was playing slot and transitioned into playing running back.”
A standout at Kilgore College, Adams came to Northwestern State in the spring of 2020 following his junior college career. That spring was cut short by the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the creation of a six-game spring season in 2021.
Adams’ performances in those six games were filled with video-game numbers, including a pair of 200-yard rushing games, and the highest yards per game average (113.5) for a Demon running back since 2007 when Byron Lawrence rushed for an average of 125.2 yards per game.
Thus far, that stretch has been the high point of Adams’ Natchitoches tenure. Ankle injuries in the past two seasons have limited him to playing in 12 of a possible 22 games and forced a medical redshirt season in 2021.
It also put Adams through as much off the field as anything he encountered on it.
“We’ve heard through our family meetings, a lot of our players have gone through the same thing,” sixth-year head coach Brad Laird said. “Success early, then injuries that have set them back. It’s tough, as a competitor, to watch your guys practice or to watch your team play and you’re not out there to contribute because of injury. It’s not just what it does physically but what it does mentally. A lot of people don’t want to talk about it.
“I know for Scooter, because we’ve talked about it, what he went through during his injuries. It’s great to be able to get to this moment – to have the success he did and the opportunity against (UL) Lafayette to score that touchdown.”
The first eight touchdowns of Adams’ NSU career – seven in that 2021 spring season — came on the ground. The past four have come via the pass.
Adams hasn’t broken the goal line in the return game, but he has flashed his big-play ability there, too, returning a kick 40 yards in the 2022 season opener at No. 2 Montana.
“Just having the ball in my hands, I feel it’s that energy and wanting to make a play, making a play,” Adams said. “That’s me.”
With his health in order, Adams’ morale is on the positive side as well – something that has been noticeable to his teammates and his coaches.
“He brings a lot of positive energy,” said offensive coordinator Beau Blair, who also is coaching running backs this season. “People rally around him. Last year, when he was hurt, he was down.
“Now he’s a light. He’s bouncing around, encouraging people. Qualities he did not have last fall are coming out of him. Other players are coming to me telling me how great a leader he is. You take anybody, a football player or anything you do in life, if you take that away, your mental health will suffer. What he’s doing right now is awesome.”
Adams admits his injuries were valuable experiences for him when it came to appreciating the game he has played for much of his life.
“I went through a hard time,” he said. “Just being able to see the game from a different perspective has helped me not take the game for granted. I respect the game as I should. I have taken it for granted at times. It’s been a very, very important lesson for me.”
Adams’ touchdown grab at UL Lafayette pushed him past the 500-yard receiving mark in his career a year after hitting the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the 2022 season opener at Montana.
Much like his career, those numbers seemed they would be attainable in much shorter order.
However, Adams has found plenty of reason for reflection and an appreciation for his time at Northwestern State. Not only will he leave with his name in the NSU record books, but he also will conclude his career with an undergraduate degree in hand.
“It’s definitely not what I expected, but I definitely am not taking it for granted,” he said. “I really enjoyed being here as long as I have. I feel like I’m back to the 2021 spring season, ready to break some more records and win a conference championship.”