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What advice did Rookie Jerell Adams get from his college coach?

Posted May 5, 2016

G.A. Mangus - TE Jerell Adams' position coach at South Carolina - recently spoke with Giants.com:


After congratulating tight end Jerell Adams on being drafted by the New York Giants, his former University of South Carolina position coach gave him two directives as he embarked on his NFL journey:

1. Don’t let the big city eat you up.

2. Make sure to continue your special teams work.

That’s sound advice from a man named G.A. Mangus to a sixth-round draft pick from a town called Pinewood with a population of 538.

“There are no buildings more than one story high down there,” Mangus said Thursday during an interview on Big Blue Kickoff Live on Giants.com. “So I said he’s going to a completely different planet.”

It’s a good thing astronomical changes are a specialty of Adams.

The South Carolina native played quarterback, tight end, linebacker, defensive end and even punter at Scott's Branch High School, where he was also a power forward on the basketball team. That’s what coaches do with a rising star who is growing into a 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame.

“As small schools go in high school, the point is you’re going to get your best player and try to get the ball in his hands,” said Mangus, who coached quarterbacks and tight ends for the Gamecocks. “And that’s where we’re seeing this in the game of football now; there’s a lot of quarterbacks. And I’ve always been a guy that thinks in a recruiting class, if you sign 25 guys, if you go sign four or five quarterbacks of all different shapes and sizes, they’ll all find a way because they’re all good athletes.”

While he was a “heck of a” defensive end and could have played that at South Carolina, Adams chose tight end when he arrived on campus in Columbia. He went on to earn SEC All-Freshman accolades on a 2012 offense that produced four draft picks the following spring, most notably running back Marcus Lattimore.

Playing in a lot of two-tight end sets and splitting time with Rory Anderson, a seventh-round draft choice by San Francisco last year, Adams eventually blossomed into an all-around tight end in the offseason leading up to his senior campaign.

“[He’s] the modern-day tight end of what you want in a guy that can get vertical and create matchup issues on linebackers and in-the-box safeties,” Mangus said. “At 6-6, anywhere from 240 to 255 he’s weighed through the years and not lost his speed, he can really run. He’s long. He’s got a huge catch radius.

“The big thing I was most proud of him is where he learned the blocking -- to be kind of the complete tight end. There’s not a bunch of those left anymore. They’re either kind of large wideouts or they’re the blocking guy that can’t get vertical down the field. It’s hard to find those guys in today’s game, and he’s a guy who can do that and really made a big stride in the offseason before his senior year last year to really become the complete tight end. And he had his best year blocking yet, and I think he’ll get nothing but better at that as time goes.”

Somewhere in his college coaching career that spans a quarter of a century, Mangus found the perfect model to teach blocking to tight ends: The Worm.

“Dennis Rodman was never the biggest guy, the strongest guy, this or that, but he wanted to get a rebound more than anybody,” Mangus said of the Basketball Hall of Famer who led the NBA in rebounds for seven consecutive seasons. “And to me, blocking as a tight end is as much want-to as it is anything. You either want to block or you don’t want to block.”
Adams wanted to.

He also wanted to play special teams, a rarity these days among recruits.

Adams saw Anderson, his former teammate, make it to the next level based on that phase of the game and knew it would make him more desirable to NFL teams.  It did.

“Jerell came a couple years ago and said, ‘Hey, I want to play special teams. I want to cover kicks,’” Mangus recalled. “And at 6-6, 240, you don’t see a lot of guys go cover kicks. And I can tell you Joe Robinson (a former special teams coordinator for South Carolina, LSU and North Carolina) -- his opinion matters -- said Jerell is one of the best kickoff cover guys he’s ever had. And the best part of it was Jerell volunteered for that. He knew we needed some help. We were having some problems covering kicks, and he went to Joe himself.”

So until his time comes to catch passes from Eli Manning on Sundays, Adams is ready to do the dirty work it takes to earn a roster spot.

“I think the future is bright for him,” Mangus said. “I think he’s just scratching the surface of how good he can be… When [Anderson] went to the NFL and kind of he became the guy, I saw his confidence level really shoot up. I think he can really have a great career in the NFL.”