INDIANAPOLIS — The beginning of Trey Adams’ career at Washington got off to an outstanding start. He earned nine starts during his first season en route to becoming the co-winner of the school's Travis Spring Most Outstanding Freshman award in 2012.
Adams parlayed his standout initial campaign into First-Team Pac-12 honors as a sophomore after starting all 14 games in 2016. After two strong seasons to begin his career, the buzz started forming about Adams as an NFL offensive tackle prospect entering the 2017 season. There was some belief that Adams could declare for the draft after his junior year with the potential to be a high selection.
The Huskies and Adams were humming along to kick off the 2017 season. Washington won its first six games of the year and Adams continued to perform well.
But disaster struck in Week 7.
Washington suffered its first defeat of the season at the hands of Pac-12 foe Arizona State and Adams tore his ACL which forced him to miss the rest of the season. Meanwhile, the Huskies turned a 6-0 start into a 4-3 finish.
Adams was on pace to start in Washington’s much-anticipated 2018 season opener against Auburn but wound up having surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back. Adams did return for the final four games of the season, but missing 17 consecutive contests across separate seasons on account of knee and back injuries dampened his draft stock.
It was during those 399 days between games where Adams’ love for football grew deeper and it affirmed the desire within himself to pursue a career in the NFL.
“Definitely being with the guys and being able to help the team win, that was the hardest part," Adams said Wednesday at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. "With that said, I think there are things from my injuries that helped me — silver lining almost. I was able to step away and see what my life was like without football and find out if I really wanted to do this. I took some time and this is truly what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m very passionate about it and just excited.”
Adams started all 13 games in 2019, extending his consecutive starts streak to 17 after his lengthy time recovering. Being able to start and finish the entire season was important to show NFL teams that he is healthy and Adams has no regrets about not leaving for the NFL earlier in his college career.
“It's been a long time coming and I’m excited to be [at the combine]," Adams said. "I wouldn’t change my experience at Washington for anything. I’m glad I came back. I’m glad I got to finish up and play all the games last year.”
The injuries are an inevitable discussion point when it comes to his projection in the upcoming draft, but Adams feels like he’s fully healthy and in top condition entering the process.
“I feel really good," Adams affirmed. "I feel like I’m stronger than I’ve ever been and training has gone really well. The physicals have been easy for me.”
While it’s promising to see Adams remain healthy for all of 2019 as he transitions to the NFL, convincing teams he can stay injury-free moving forward is critical to his valuation. By all indications, Adams is on the right track and he trusts the way his body has healed.
“I’ve had amazing training the last couple months," Adams said. "I feel awesome and I felt great during the season too. I [just want] to go out and show teams that I am healthy. The biggest part for anyone going through an injury is the mental side. Do you really really trust your knee or your back? And I do. Structurally, it’s all there. It’s all great. But mentally, are you ready to come back. I’ve had a few years to think about that and I’m feeling really good.”
The slew of injuries Adams sustained has allowed him to gain the right perspective, and he’s now ready to pursue his passion.
“Being hurt, it did a lot for me," said Adams. "Whether it was just being able to refocus or see my life without football which was different but good. I got to do that and realize I really love the sport.”