Arriving at Arizona State as a national Top-100 recruit in 2009, Corey Adams was expected to be a mainstay in the trenches at defensive tackle. Instead, he's been a mainstay in the therapy room.
Adams suffered a disc issue in his back that necessitated surgery as a freshman and had a knee injury that led to a slow start last season. That was followed by neck trouble caused by a car accident that almost entirely prevented his ability to practice last season. On top of that, he's had shoulder issues that have limited his effectiveness at times.
So when camp started this season and Adams felt a twinge in his hamstring and subsequently missed three early practices, it seemed his streak of bad luck was continuing.
But then, Adams returned and put together two straight weeks of impressive play that led to him challenging for a starting nod.
"The light has gone on and Corey is a very talented young man," first-year defensive line coach Scott Brown said. "He's got size, athleticism, he's feeling healthy and it's showing with his motor. He has a chance to be a very good football player."
Adams says his health has played a big role in his recent emergence, but more so he credits Brown with some technical improvements including a better stance and hand placement, as well as a fresh approach to playing the game.
"I think my energy that I bring to the field is better than it's ever been," Adams said. "Definitely with the coaching staff at defensive line I have had a reawakening. Not only for the game but just for me to improve.
"Me and coach Brown definitely have a very healthy relationship and every day I just come out here working on something to improve. He's a great coach. He brings a great energy to our line and we're improving against the run and pass. He talks about mastering our craft. That's something I really respect and we have an attitude for every day."
Adams forms a strong top four defensive tackle rotation along with projected starters, senior Bo Moos and sophomore William Sutton, and junior Toa Tuitea, who has also had an impressive camp.
Head coach Dennis Erickson has taken note of Adams' improvements and said he's been one of the more impressive players on the team in recent weeks.
"I think Corey Adams is having a great, great camp and he's been healthy for the first time ever really, and really has improved a lot athletically and he looks good," Erickson said. "We will see what happens."
The ASU defensive front seven had a very successful blitz period Monday, getting numerous sacks and some forced throws from quarterbacks. Ends Junior Onyeali, Davon Coleman and Jordan McDonald and tackle William Sutton were particularly disruptive. Sutton has had three excellent practices in a row and is pushing for Defensive Camp Most Valuable Player Award.