December 25, 2013

Adams recalls Henne/Hart start

Former Michigan safety Jamar Adams performed on the Wolverines' last Big Ten title team. He talked about that experience exclusively to The Wolverine, during a "Where Are They Now" segment in the current magazine.

That 2004 season, Adams noted, included an array of talent the Wolverines are now seeking to replicate.

"It was an amazing year," Adams recalled. "People had some incredible seasons, coming from my class. Mike Hart had an amazing season as a freshman at Michigan. That was tremendous for Mike. Chad Henne stepped in as a freshman and had a really good season.

"We had tremendous players like Braylon Edwards, and great leaders. That's what I take away from 2004 - we had some great leaders. Roy Manning, Marlin Jackson, Jason Avant, David Baas, Tim Massaquoi - we just had a really good nucleus of players and leaders on that team.

"We had a good time. It was a fun group to be around and learn from."

Henne stepped in and became the first true freshman quarterback ever to lead a team to a Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl as a rookie. Meanwhile, Hart always seemed to embody more than the sum of his attributes, Adams observed.

"Chad had an amazing arm," Adams recalled. "I remember him being in fall camp that year, and the first couple of practices the coaches were putting the film on him and just talking about Chad's arm talent. He worked really hard to pick the offense up, and he did what most young players don't do - he didn't make mistakes. He didn't fumble the football, he didn't throw interceptions at a high rate, like most young players do.

"Mike had a confidence in himself, and he was extremely productive. If you looked at Mike, he's not that fast, he's not that big. He's not a lot of things, but he was very, very productive. He had a confidence in himself, and great balance as a back.

"He worked extremely hard. Both of those guys worked extremely hard in the weight room, in the classroom, and were just really, really good players at a young age."

Adams himself didn't jump in full bore as a freshman right away, but got there after a few weeks, he acknowledged.

"I came in and I was expected to play a little bit," he said. "At first, things didn't run out the way I wanted them to. I wasn't playing as well, and it was a little bit of paralysis by analysis, trying to understand. I was over-thinking everything.

"It came to me around the middle of the season. It all came together, understanding what they were asking me to do, understanding the plays I had to make. It allowed me to get out there on defense and add some value to the team, make some checks and get people lined up, and eventually make some contributions at critical moments in some games."

Adams cherishes those memories, but admits he can't believe the time has gone by so quickly, or that other titles haven't followed. He understands the program upheaval with a pair of coaching changes.

At the same time, he's ready - like most Michigan fans - to see a strong move back toward competing at the levels he knew in Ann Arbor.

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