When the Wolverines open the season against the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Saturday, Michigan safety Jamar Adams will be facing a familiar foe. Appalachian State, located in Boone N.C., provides the Michigan safety with extra motivation and the responsibility of teaching his teammates how important it is not to overlook the Mountaineers.
When Jamar Adams, a three-star safety out of North Carolina, pledged to continue his playing days in the Michigan football program, the talented David W. Butler High School football star didn’t leave behind a program devoid of talent. Saturday, when the Wolverines open the 2007 season against Appalachian State, Adams will be blasting back into his past in a match up that pits the Wolverines against a foe familiar to the North Carolina native.
“I know one of their guys played with me in high school,” Adams said when talking Appalachian State. “I played with Leonard Love. He’s actually their starting strong safety and wears No. 22. I know him real well. His father was actually my little league coach and I’ve known him since we were 9 or 10 years old. And a couple of them played against us in high school. They keep telling me that we better be ready and that we better not sleep on them.”
As a Division I-AA team, it wouldn't be hard for the Maize and Blue to look past the Mountaineers and instead see the Oregon Ducks, visiting Ann Arbor on September 8. Adams, however, has taken the role of motivating the team as they prepare for the two-time Division I-AA National Champions.
"They look fast. I haven't seen them on the field yet, but on film they look fast," said Adams, an observation also made by Lloyd Carr.
"They're a team with outstanding team speed. I think that particularly the skill positions, the wide receiver position, and obviously Edwards is an exciting athlete at quarterback. From the reports that I've read, he's improved dramatically in terms of the passing game. But he's an exciting football player."
Because the Wolverines have struggled with mobile quarterbacks in previous years, the challenge brought forth by the Mountaineers will be a trial by fire for the green Michigan secondary.
Beside Adams, a starter in 20 straight games for the Wolverines, Stevie Brown is poised to make his first collegiate start at the free safety position. On the outside, Morgan Trent and Johnny Sears, both the frequent target of criticism over the past offseason, will be tested early and often in the Wolverines first game of the year.
"I think Morgan has just got better. I don't think he was trying to prove anything to anyone, but he definitely did get better," Adams said. "He just went out there and worked on his technique and his craft, being a cornerback, covering guys man-to-man."
And Carr’s impression on the rest of the secondary?
"Johnny Sears has shown marked improvement, I think he's shown marked maturity. He was a guy a year ago that did some great things on our special teams, and I think he's always displayed a real toughness and aggressiveness, and he has no fear. He's a guy that has competed extremely well, and I think he has made great strides in terms of the coverage that is required at that position. He's also displayed very good ability as a return man, so Johnny has earned an opportunity for significant playing time.
"Steve Brown played some a year ago on our special teams. He's a guy that in the last couple weeks -- he's another guy who runs extremely well. He's a tough, hard-nosed guy. He'll only get better with experience but he's done an excellent job."