March 23, 2022

Receiver Darvin Adams’ long football journey brings him to Ottawa

Winnipeg Blue Bombers WR Darvin Adams makes a catch during fourth quarter CFL Western Division final action against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Winnipeg on Sunday, December 5, 2021. (CFL PHOTO - JASON HALSTEAD)

Darvin Adams catching ball

Darvin Adams always knew he could ball.

As a kid growing up in Canton, Mississippi, Adams regularly squared off against a selection of cousins and buddies outside of his grandmother’s house. He played youth football before high school, after joining the local little league team at the urging of his godfather, who coached.

Ultimately, though, it was a brief time away from football that made the now 32-year-old realize he might have a future in the game he loved.

“After my ninth-grade season, I couldn’t play spring ball ‘cause I messed up on my grades,” said the wide receiver, a key free agent acquisition for the Ottawa REDBLACKS last month. “A lot of the coaches and college scouts were asking, ‘where’s #2?’ and I was on the sideline with my backpack on.

“That’s when I realized I might be able to do something more with football, and I said I was never going to let this happen to me again.”

It had been a tough go for a young Adams at that point. His grades, he said, weren’t so much about not being able to do the work, but by trying to gain a bit of control over his home life. Though his parents weren’t together, it was decided Adams would move from Mississippi to live with his dad in Georgia. It was a tough transition, initially.

“I was upset; as a teenager, going through all these changes and then having to move,” Adams explained. “So, I was like, I’m going to do something to make us move back and figured I wouldn’t do the schoolwork and just play football.”

But after being forced to miss spring ball that Grade 9 year, Adams, who then played quarterback, got serious. Which was a good thing because, in Georgia, football was serious business.

“Schools like Wake Forest, like Clemson, were coming out and I was like, ‘man, this is for real,’” Adams said. “I thought it was cool. Coming from where I’m from, it’s a privilege and a blessing to have someone from a D-1 school looking at you. It was really big for me.”

The move to Georgia also led to a positional change for Adams, who as a quarterback wearing #10, was called “Young Eli Manning” in middle school after the now-Pro Football Hall of Famer, who played at Ole Miss at the time. But at his new school, the team already had a quarterback, a junior committed to Wake Forrest, and Adams just wanted to play.

“I wanted to get on the field. I played defence, and then moved to receiver and I liked it,” Adams said.

Initially planning to go to college at Tennessee and with LSU and Auburn in the mix, Adams would ultimately commit to the latter. In 37 games at Auburn, Adams caught 115 passes for 1,978 yards and 17 touchdowns. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, he would spend the 2011 season with the club.

Adams made the move north to the CFL when he joined the Toronto Argonauts following part of the 2012 season spent in the United Football League. While he loved his time in Toronto, Adams felt underused as a depth receiver.

“I was really doing good in Toronto,” Adams said. “I was banging heads and they loved it.”

Perhaps most importantly, his time in Toronto introduced him to then-Argos Special Teams Coordinator Mike O’Shea, who soon after would soon become Head Coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Ted Goveia, now the Bombers’ Senior Assistant General Manager.

When Adams hit free agency ahead of the 2015 season, he received a call from O’Shea.

“He was like, ‘you want to come play receiver and catch the ball?’,” said Adams. “That’s how it went.”

Darvin Adams catching the ball

How it went, is well-documented CFL history. Adams hit his stride in Winnipeg, with all but 261 of his 4,928 career receiving yards coming with the Bombers, including a pair of consecutive 1,000-yard years in 2017 and 2018. He also had a pair of Grey Cup rings, won as a member of the powerhouse Bombers who went back-to-back in 2019 and 2021. But football is a business, and when Adams reached free agency once again in February of this year, he got another phone call from another familiar face; Paul LaPolice, his offensive coordinator In Winnipeg, and newly-hired GM Shawn Burke, wanted Adams in Ottawa.

Adams jumped at the chance.

“I thought it was a great opportunity,” he said. “LaPo is a good coach; he knows what to do and how to do it. Add that to all the pieces being put together and it couldn’t be a better situation for me. This could be something special.”

The father of three daughters aged eight, 11 and 12 has plenty of gas left in the tank, and he’s excited to head to Ottawa to show RNation what he can do as a member of the home team.

“The fans can expect me to be myself,” Adams said. “I’m a hard-nosed football player. I’m a great person, and great teammate, and I love to interact with the fans. I like to bring excitement and I want to hear all that cheering.

“I love the game of football and the fans will see that through my play.”