Rodney Adams ready to lead USF football to new heights

Junior Rodney Adams takes over for Andre Davis as USF's top receiver this season. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

Filling the shoes of a popular predecessor can be a stomach-churning task.

Throw in the fact that player set 13 individual program records, grew into a home-grown legend and is currently on the fast track to an NFL career — it’s enough to make one consider chugging a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. 

But that’s just what Rodney Adams faces this season: the laborious challenge of replacing Andre Davis, arguably the finest receiver in USF’s 18-year history. 

Davis, a former Jefferson High standout, surpassed several marks, establishing new highs for receptions (153), receiving yards (2,136) and receiving touchdowns (17). He also owns every USF season and single-game receiving record for catches, yards or touchdowns.

For Adams, however, taking Davis’ spot is nothing that can’t be done. But he’ll be calling for backup just in case.

“I’ll step up and take that role,” he said Tuesday. “But we want every receiver to be that guy.

“You know what I mean? I don’t want to put it all on myself. We’re a team and as a receiver corps, we’ve all got to make big plays and be that guy.”

Adams, who transferred from Toledo last offseason to be closer to his family in St. Petersburg after the death of his mother in an automobile accident, certainly has the potential.

In his first season, Adams appeared in 10 games and finished second on the team with 323 receiving yards. His first collegiate touchdown reception,  a 30-yard pass from Mike White on a fourth-and-10 situation,  came four days after his 20th birthday on a rain-soaked Friday night at Raymond James Stadium against Connecticut. 

Now, it’s about making similar memories as the top dog.

“I just have to be prepared for this year,” Adams said. “All the younger guys are looking up to me and they’re counting on me, I’m counting on them. We just have to work together. I’m taking on the challenge of helping them out because I have a year under my belt.”

Helping Adams’ case is USF doing away with its West Coast power-run offense in favor of a new up-tempo, spread-style system.

Having played in a similar scheme at Lakewood High, Adams compiled more than 1,200 all-purpose yards as a senior in 2013 and was rated the No. 22 wide receiver in the country and the 28th-overall prospect in the state by 247Sports.

Moving back to the spread has given Adams a heightened sense of comfort compared to last season.

“A lot of high-schoolers run the spread offense and for young guys to come into a pro style, they’re not going to know it that well,” he said. “One play is a paragraph. It’s hard for them to learn it and learn everything in the offense. But going back to a spread, it’s easier for them to learn. They can play early, play fast. Not a lot of thinking to do. It just depends on if they’re ready to play and step up and be a D-I athlete.”

Adams will have plenty of help, too. On USF’s first game-week, two-deep depth chart, he is joined by speedy freshman Chris Barr — who Adams said will be untouchable to linebackers because of his speed — in the slot and sophomore Ryeshene Bronson on the outside. 

Once Adams develops a better chemistry with new starting quarterback Quinton Flowers, he’s assured everything else will fall into place. It starts with Saturday’s opener against Florida A&M.

“We just want to execute and do our thing,” Adams said. “We have a point to prove, but we want to do it our way. Style points don’t mean anything. Winning means a lot. You can put up as many points as you want, but if you don’t win, it doesn’t mean anything.

"We just want to execute and play our offense and play our ball."

Follow Jeff Odom on Twitter @ByJeffOdom.