Adams excels as two-sport athlete

In mid-February, UK head baseball coach Gary Henderson stood at the podium a week before the Cats season began, enthusiastic about his centerfielder, Brian Adams.

One month later, UK head football coach Joker Phillips stood at the same podium on the eve of the start of spring practice, equally enthusiastic about a fast wide receiver on his roster. His name was Brian Adams.

This is no coincidence, nor is it a typo. For the last month, Adams has practiced with the football team in the morning, and played for the baseball team in the evening.

“It’s been a whole lot of fun,” Adams said. “God has blessed me with the ability to play both … I’m just excited about playing both.”

Adams has lined up at wide receiver in Phillips’ offense, an offense with plenty of holes to fill after the departures of wide receivers Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews. This spring he has worked hard to earn playing time that, for the moment, seems to still be up for grabs.

In the evenings, Adams plays centerfield for UK’s baseball team, starting 25 of the team’s first 33 games and hitting .304 with 11 RBI so far this season. Adams’ biggest threat is his wide receiver speed tracking down balls in the outfield and running the bases. Adams is third on the team with eight stolen bases in 10 attempts.

“Brian Adams goes out and hits a home run last night (a game against Xavier which UK won 15-2) and now makes a lot of plays for us on the perimeter,” Phillips said on April 6. “I’m happy to have him out there today. Hopefully he can make some plays for us and then go out and hit a couple home runs in the afternoon.”

­­Playing two sports at the same time can take a physical toll, but so far Adams has managed to remain injury free.

“The trainers have been great in keeping me healthy,” Adams said. “For the most part I have been good.”

It’s a wonder how Adams is able to dedicate himself not only physically, but also mentally, to two different Division I sports that require as much preparation as football and baseball do, but Adams said that the solution was simple.

“Take it one day at a time,” Adams said. “Obviously my focus from 6 o’clock (a.m.) has been football, and by 1 o’clock it will be baseball. They’re very different sports; it’s a lot of fun to just come out here and play.

“(UK wide receivers) Coach (Tee) Martin has been great showing me what’s going on, and Coach (Brian) Green with the baseball team has been great helping me with my swing. So both coaching staffs have been great.”

In between football practices and baseball games, Adams also manages to make it to his classes, and has performed well not only on the field but also in the classroom. Adams currently posts a 3.8 GPA, and hopes to graduate by summer of 2012.

“I’m still doing good in school,” Adams said. “Barr Benson does a great job scheduling my classes, and Michael Stone for baseball — they do a great job. Without them I probably wouldn’t be successful.”

Asked what Adams finds to be the toughest part of managing two sports at the same time, he answered that it was managing his frustration.

“I just have to adjust quicker,” Adams said. “The biggest thing for me is just managing frustration. I always want to do everything perfect every time, and you can’t do that. Especially over at the baseball field, you’re going to get out. And that’s one of the things that’s not really my favorite things, but you just need to make sure you go up to the plate every time with a competitive edge and try and get a hit. It’s just an adjustment I have to make.”