It's been a crazy week for headlines surrounding Eastern Washington transfer quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and his future with Oregon. In time, this whole situation may amount to a big, fat nothing. For now, though, each day Adams isn't on campus with the team probably feels like a month.
To summarize: Andrew Greif of the Oregonian reported last week that Adams had been admitted to Oregon for graduate school and could enroll. A few days later, Grief reported that Adams, despite walking on June 13, "did not meet Eastern Washington's graduation standards after the spring academic quarter."
Though Aaron Fentress of Comcast Sports Network reported that Adams is still on track to graduate this summer, and that Oregon's coaches didn't expect Adams to graduate until then, it's still a development considering Adams wanted to graduate in the spring, according to Grief.
What this means for Adams is that he could be cutting it close in regard to getting on campus and finally practicing with his teammates.
Should this worry Oregon and its fanbase? It depends on how you define "worry," but the answer is still generally "no."
For example, should Oregon worry that Adams will even graduate? Probably not. The delay in his arrival is certainly a hiccup, but the overall sense is that Adams will be on campus before the start of the season. It's more likely a matter of when than if.
Being a player without a football team is not a great place to be. It's not just about practicing or playing, either; there are athletic and academic support systems Adams is missing out on as well. If Adams gets caught in an academic snag, no one loses as much as he does. Not Oregon. Not even Eastern Washington. The importance of graduating cannot be overstated.
However, should Oregon worry that Adams' late arrival will impact his chances to start? This is a more legitimate concern, but it still isn't big enough to merit total panic—not yet, anyway. As Austin Meek of the (Eugene) Register-Guard opined this week, Adams is missing out on some valuable teamwork time. It's an inconvenience now, and nothing more, but it could become a bigger problem down the road:
Missing summer conditioning doesn’t cripple Adams’ chances of winning the starting job. It adds to the challenge, though, and when you’re already operating with a tight window, every day counts.
Today, July 12, Adams’ absence is a minor story. It becomes a major story — and, again, a major distraction — if he’s not here for the start of camp on Aug. 10.
If that happens, every day becomes a variation on the theme of “Where’s Vernon?” And when he does arrive, it’s fair to wonder how he’ll be received in the locker room — whether his teammates will welcome a newcomer in their midst or look suspiciously at a player who hasn’t been sweating with them throughout the offseason.
Surely, this is going through Adams' mind, and it's all the more motivation to complete his undergraduate work. There's probably nothing he'd rather be doing more than working out with his new teammates right now. Again, this is an Adams issue and only an Adams issue. Whether he arrived in June or August, he was going to have to earn the respect of his new teammates and develop quickly. There's just less time to do that now.
We do know that Adams has tremendous skill, though. This was on display at EWU and in games against Washington (2014) and Oregon State (2013). Still, being named the starter after just a few weeks on campus, at most, is a tough task. Jeff Lockie, the front-runner exiting spring and Marcus Mariota's former backup, doesn't look like he's willing to hand the job over to Adams. This should be an encouraging sign.
Adams may be more athletically gifted than Lockie, but that doesn't mean Lockie will be easy to surpass on the depth chart. Competition is a good thing for Oregon. If Adams wins, the Ducks will feel like they've upgraded their quarterback position with a proven playmaker. If Lockie wins, how good must he be? On top of that, Adams would be a good insurance policy.
Lockie said it best when he told Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com in January, "People will learn to see a different game and get used to it."
The entire Adams situation is absolutely stressful. No one likes it when things don't go according to plan. But, at worst, Oregon will be where it was six months ago. At best, it'll have a shiny new quarterback to lead the team back to a playoff appearance.
We just don't know exactly which one it's going to be yet. Is it at the point where head coach Mark Helfrich is losing sleep over the situation? Absolutely not, and he probably won't ever get there.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand.