For a guy who as a middle schooler envisioned himself playing in the NBA, Ty Adams has turned out to be a pretty good football player.
Or a spectacular football player might be a better description.
After two injury riddled varsity seasons at Swainsboro High in Georgia, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder emerged as a two-way star for the Tigers on the football field during the 2021 football season. Working as Swainsboro’s starting quarterback and safety, Adams earned first-team all-state honors as an athlete by Recruit Georgia and earned the attention of more than a dozen college programs.
East Carolina, however, didn’t join the pursuit until June 3rd after cornerbacks coach Steve Ellis watched Adams turn a 4.35-second 40-yard dash during a camp at Mercer University. The Pirates offered Adams a scholarship 12 days later, then entertained him on an official visit to campus June 19 during which he offered his verbal commitment. Adams is one of four high school prospects to join ECU’s recruiting class of 2023 from June 18 to June 23.
Spending time with ECU players such as graduate student tight end Ryan Jones and sophomore receiver Taji Hudson played a big role in Adams deciding on ECU over 14 other schools pursuing him. Central Arkansas, Charleston Southern, Charlotte, Fordham, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Incarnate, Jacksonville State, James Madison, Kent State, Liberty, Mercer and Middle Tennessee State are also offered Adams scholarships.
“I enjoyed the facilities, but when I was around the players I was impressed with the communication they had together,” Adams said. “Taji told me they don’t fuss or anything. They all get along because it’s like a brotherhood. I liked that. It was the players who really made me commit because of the relationship they have.”
If a middle school Adams had his way, he would have been giving that verbal commitment to a major college basketball program.
Despite some close family ties to football, including his cousin, former Georgia cornerback Rico Johnson, Adams fancied himself a basketball player. And Adams is quite adept on the hardcourt. He’s been a regular performer for Swainsboro’s varsity basketball squad since his freshman season, and as a junior averaged 9.8 points and was named to the All-Class 2A Region 2 second team.
“He’s really one of those kids we thought, and we thought too, that he was going to play in the NBA,” Swainsboro football coach Scott Roberts said. “But we had kids who graduated a couple of years ago who were the same way. They thought they were going to play in the NBA in the eighth grade, but they both signed to play football with N.C. State.”
Roberts is referring to tight end twins Cedric and Fred Seabrough, who will be redshirt freshmen with the Wolfpack next fall. Both were big-time basketball players in middle school and had solid high school varsity careers, but eventually realized football was their future.
Adams had also impressed Roberts as the quarterback for the middle school football team. His speed and athleticism helped him become a varsity starter at free safety as a freshman before a broken wrist ended his season prematurely. Adams became the varsity quarterback as a sophomore before he took a hard hit to his quad muscle in his leg in the third game of the year. The injury resulting from the play again sent Adams to the sidelines for much of the season.
But as a junior in 2021, Adams finally enjoyed a healthy year. As a two-way player, he made 39 tackles, two tackles for loss and two interceptions on defense, while passing for 450 yards and rushing for 1,778 on offense.
“Last year was the first chance he had to get into a groove and get comfortable,” Roberts said. “You could just see every week he got more confident, and by the fourth week he just exploded.”
Adams produced big plays for Swainsboro on both sides of the ball as a junior. Two of the most memorable occurred against rival Jefferson County early in the season and late in the year against Jeff Davis in a big regional matchup.
“Early in the season (against Jefferson County), when we were struggling offensively and trying to find ourselves, it’s a 0-0 game late in the third or early fourth quarter,” Roberts said. “He gets an 85-yard pick six and we win the game 7-0. That was against a big rival of ours.
“Later in the year, we were playing No. 5 Jeff Davis in what was basically going to be for the region championship. We’re down at halftime, but he breaks off a 65-yard run for a touchdown to help us take the lead, then runs in the two-point conversion.
“He had a lot of spectacular plays all year that gave us a boost. If you look at his HUDL highlights, there’s about a minute and a half in before he even gets tackled.”
East Carolina has recruited Adams to play defensive back, although Roberts said he could develop into a quality receiver as well.
“My coverage skills are getting better, but my speed is probably my biggest strength,” Adams said.
Although he’s likely to be eligible to graduate early from high school, Adams could opt to spend his entire senior year at Swainsboro so he can compete in basketball and track. This spring he was part of a 4×100-meter relay team that won the state championship.
“I don’t know if he’s even thought that far ahead yet,” Roberts said. “He’s part of a state champion 4×100 team and all four of them are back. I would think he’d want to do that along with basketball.”