This website has been well aware of Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams and his exploits for awhile now. What I was not aware of was just how much steam there is to a rumor Vernon Adams could be Marcus Mariota’s successor at Oregon.
With national signing day just a week away, Vernon Adams would be the Ducks’ biggest get for 2015. At least, he’d be the only new addition who has proven he can thrive against Pac-12 competition, having roasted Oregon rival Washington for seven touchdowns in an encounter last season, and leading EWU to an upset of the Ducks’ other rival, Oregon State, in 2013.
Those two outings may have been the game that put Vernon Adams on the national radar, but they were the status quo for arguably the most exciting, dual-threat playmaker in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Adams threw for 1,961 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2012 with another 342 and one on the ground; 4,994 yards/55 touchdowns passing and 605/four rushing; and 3,483 yards/35 touchdowns and 285/six rushing in 2014. Whew.
Oh, and did I mention he helped the Eagles win three Big Sky championships in that time? That’s kinda important.
His ability to blend the run and pass seemingly fits the system Mark Helfrich inherited from Chip Kelly to a T. So, the rumored union makes sense.
But is there legitimacy to it?
The Vernon Adams-to-Oregon talk first started, as far as I can tell, from a Jan. 20 column on FishDuck.com. It begins:
Who is Vernon Adams? Maybe the next quarterback for the Oregon Ducks. Daily rumors are swirling as to potential candidates to become the next quarterback at Oregon. Monday, Head Coach Mark Helfrich said, “We’re going to exhaust every path to find the right guy, the right fit, but we certainly believe in who’s on campus and what’s to come.” One intriguing “path” — Eastern Washington’s junior quarterback, Vernon Adams.
Now, there are no links provided of said rumors, and as mentioned, this is the earliest link between the two I can find.
Adams told the Spokesman Review a day later that there was no contact between himself and Oregon.
So that’s that, right? Well…
Sources: Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams to visit Oregon this weekend.
— Jen Beyrle (@JenBeyrle) January 28, 2015
Jen Beyrle is a reporter with The Oregonian, a publication that covers Oregon football as closely and as well as any. But whereas Adams’ denial has a name attached to it — his own — Beyrle’s anonymous-sourced tweet is the closest to a concrete link between Vernon Adams and Oregon that exists as of now.
Justin Hopkins of 247Sports.com reports Adams has his transfer release from Eastern Washington. Hopkins writes:
Sources have confirmed with us, among various reports Adams will in fact visit Oregon this weekend.
What hasn’t been reported is Adams does in fact have his transfer release making this visit a possibility.
From whom this was confirmed, Hopkins’ report doesn’t say.
Adams isn’t the first possible transfer mentioned in conjunction with Oregon’s vacant quarterback job. Ohio State’s erstwhile Heisman Trophy contender, Braxton Miller, was kicked around as a possible Mariota successor.
The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif debunked some of the more egregious claims to that end.
So if it’s not Miller and maybe (or maybe not) Vernon Adams, where does that leave Oregon?
Well, Jeff Lockie’s been in the program for three years and studied under Mariota. 2014 recruit Morgan Mahalak is long, quick and a potentially great passer — traits shared with Mariota.
Helfrich could invest in either with an eye to 2016. Royce Freeman will be a junior then, and the young receivers who broke out in 2014 will be upperclassmen. Give them a year to establish chemistry and make a push then.
And that’s assuming the Ducks’ 2015 success is predicated solely on having an experienced quarterback. The last two times Oregon turned the offense over to first-year starters, the Ducks went 12-1 and appeared in a national championship game in 2010.
Whether Oregon is invested in one of its current quarterbacks, or if Vernon Adams is on deck for a one-season run, this story is one in which we may not have a clear answer until shortly before September, when Adams is scheduled to play at Autzen Stadium.
But will he be in Eastern Washington red-and-black, or Oregon green?