Kay’Ron Adams back where he’s ‘supposed to be’ in UMass football backfield

  • UMass running back Kay’Ron Adams participates in a drill at UMass football's first day of fall camp practice Friday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • UMass running back Ellis Merriweather participates in a drillat UMass football's first day of fall camp practice Friday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • UMass tight end Eni Falayi catches a pass at UMass football's first day of fall camp practice Friday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • UMass quarterback Zamar Wise loads up a throw at UMass football's first day of fall camp practice Friday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • UMass quarterback Gino Campiotti loads up a throw at UMass football's first day of fall camp practice Friday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • UMass quarterback Brady Olson loads up a throw at UMass football's first day of fall camp practice Friday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2022 2:59:27 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 2:56:20 PM

AMHERST – Kay’Ron Adams spent much of last season at home, his ankle wrapped and elevated. He transferred from Rutgers to UMass after the 2020 season for more opportunities.

An injury ended his debut season as a Minuteman in the fifth game against Toledo.

“Honestly, it really hurt me because I never pictured being without [football],” Adams said Friday at UMass’ first practice of fall camp. “Having time to sit there and not be able to go to practice and just having my foot up all day put me in a place where this is gonna make me or break me. I’m either gonna come back harder I'm just not come back at all.”

He returned in time for spring practice but to the defensive backfield rather than the offensive backfield. Adams practiced as a “viper,” coach Don Brown’s hybrid linebacker/safety position that demands elite athleticism and strong football knowledge.

“That was all my decision. I wanted to come back and do something crazy,” Adams said. “My mind was just everywhere.”

Adams eventually returned to the running back room but gained a newfound understanding of how to attack defenses.

“I realized why is the defense doing this? Why is that happening?” he said. “It helped me understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. It actually benefited me a lot.”

Friday at McGuirk Stadium, Adams was back in the backfield taking handoffs and running routes in a white offense jersey.

“I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” Adams said. “I’m exactly in my element. I’m so happy I made the decisions and everything happened the way it did.”

He resembled the back Ellis Merriweather bonded with last season. Gone is the occasionally tentative workout partner from the summer. Adams is back to full strength.

“The way that he grinds the way he attacks, his approach to everything, it's just happy for us to see him finally get his confidence back,” Merriweather said. “We were in the weight room during summer and he was kind of hesitant on his ankle. Now he's really starting to get back in the groove.”

Adams will provide diversity and explosiveness to UMass’ backfield. He’s a dangerous pass catcher and can also return kicks.

“Kay’Ron brings a great dimension for us. He’s kind of a scat back mixed with a power back. Great balance, great hands, great feet, really good at pass block. Having him back in the room is a big plus for us,” UMass running backs coach Damian Mincey said. “It was tough on Ellis last year because once Kay’Ron went down, he had to shoulder a load.”

Merriweather ran the ball 218 times for 1,138 yards in 12 games. That’s 52 percent of UMass’ carries and 57 percent of its rushing yards. He won’t have to carry the ball that often with Adams and the rest of the Minutemen in the backfield like Louisville transfer Greg Desrosiers, Indiana transfer Tim Baldwin Jr. and freshman Donta Whack.

“Every time we practice, iron sharpens iron. We push each other to get better as a collective,” Adams said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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