Derry lineman Gavin Adams sticks with recruiting process, earns walk-on spot at Miami

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 | 6:46 PM

While he wraps up his senior year at Derry, Gavin Adams still is working his after-school job at Lowe’s. Hardware stores remain open, so Adams is considered essential personnel.

The University of Miami thinks so, too.

Adams, a 6-foot-3, 275-pound offensive lineman, committed to joining the Hurricanes as a preferred walk-on over the weekend.

“I was comfortable down there. That was one of the most important things,” Adams said. “Florida as opposed to Pennsylvania is going to be a huge change, but I think having change in your life is a decent thing to have.”

Adams is one of the most accomplished linemen in the WPIAL, having earned first-team all-conference honors and being nominated for the Bill Fralic Award, given to the top interior lineman in the district.

His highlight reel speaks volumes. His combination of strength and athleticism overwhelmed countless defenders last season. Justin Huss ran for 1,995 yards and scored 32 touchdowns with Adams leading the way.

Adams is also an accomplished student. The way Derry calculates grade-point averages, students must average 92.5% to get a 4.0. Adams averages between 94 and 95%.

Still, with all those lines on his resume, the recruiting process was long and difficult. That is the No. 1 lesson he hopes younger players will learn from his story: Be patient. Stick with it.

“Do not get discouraged if there’s nobody talking to them right away,” Adams said. “That’s kind of what happened to me early on. I got discouraged when Max Malis got a couple of offers before me. You just have to make sure your head’s on right from at least sophomore year on.”

The process didn’t really heat up for Adams until after his junior season, when he received his first Division I offer from St. Francis (Pa.). A visit to Miami’s campus in January 2019 proved critical. That’s when he met with Jorge Baez, the football program’s director of player development.

Baez took one look at Adams and made a shocking announcement.

“I will give you a preferred walk-on right now based on your size,” Adams recalled Baez saying. “I was like, ‘Well, I didn’t expect that.’ ”

Fifteen months later, Adams is wearing orange and green.

The opportunity to play big-time college football was a lure for Adams.

“I wanted to see how good I can truly become and how good I am,” he said.

Academics were an even greater concern.

“They had what I wanted academically,” Adams said. “They actually had civil engineering. Most places that were recruiting me didn’t.”

Receiving the offer from Miami is an accomplishment in and of itself. The school has only six preferred walk-on spots in each recruiting class, and only 19% of applicants are accepted in his major.

That doesn’t mean it’s time to celebrate. It’s time to get back to work.

At 6-3, he is a little short to play tackle in major college football, so he is preparing for a switch to center or guard.

“Me and my dad are in the process of building a net to get my snaps down,” Adams said.

At 275 pounds, he probably could stand to add a little bulk as well.

“I know when I get down to Miami, they’ll put the weight on me. I’ll most likely redshirt,” Adams said. “I’m not too worried about that. I’m worried about keeping the speed on without the gym being open. I’ve been running, doing this and that, biking, trying to stay in shape during quarantine.”

Most importantly, he has set his sights on improving his skill set. In high school, he sometimes could dominate based on size and athleticism. At Miami, he will have to refine his technique.

“I feel like I need to get better at just staying on my one path and doing what I need to do,” Adams said, “not trying to do more than what I can.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at or via Twitter .


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