URBANA (WCIA) — Tony Adams has suffered just about every injury on the list. A torn ACL in high school, problems with his shoulder, hamstring and a broken arm are the major injuries that have sidelined the Illinois safety. Now a junior, Adams is finally healthy and looking to stay that way as he heads into the season looking to prove himself as the team’s anchor in the defensive backfield.
“You get more opportunities to be a playmaker,” Adams said about playing safety, a position he switched to last season. “The ball in the air, you just gotta go get it and that’s what I’m trying to do this season. I’ve gotten a lot better, and the process has made me mature a lot more, I gained a lot more knowledge for the game.”
Adams has missed 11 games in his llini career but despite the injuries, his time on the field has been nothing short of impressive. Nationally ranked as a Top-100 defensive back out of St. Louis University high school, he was the first true freshman since 2006 to start in a game at cornerback. He ended up switching to nickel, before ending up a safety, where he’ll play this season.
“He gives us a lot of flexibility, and he’s been healthy–that’s what has stopped him in the past,” Illinois head coach Lovie Smith said. “He’s had a great camp, we’re really excited about what he’s going to do this year.”
“I was set on playing corner but in the middle of the season, Coach (Lovie) Smith needed me to go to safety and I was eager to do it,” Adams said.
The change bodes well for Adams, who finished his sophomore season with 43 tackles. He was third on the team in pass breakups, now he’s looking for more.
“I want to be an All-American, why not me?” he said.
It’s something an Illini defensive back hasn’t done in 55 years.