ST. PETERSBURG — Vernon Adams can't do much about his height, so the former Oregon quarterback's goal this week preparing for Saturday's East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field is to make you notice other things about his game.
"All of us are out here trying to up our draft stock, especially me, being a shorter quarterback," said Adams, 5 feet 11, who threw for 26 touchdowns against just six interceptions last season. "I'm out here trying to have fun, be a great leader and make plays. I want to show everybody I can play this game and play quarterback at the next level."
Adams, 23, showed off his arm at Tuesday's practice, hitting Stanford WR Devon Cajuste on a deep throw down the sideline. Before transferring to Oregon for his final season, Adams was a two-time runnerup for the Walter Payton Award, given to Division I-AA's top player, at Eastern Washington. He said last season helped answer critics who wondered if he could have the same success in a major conference.
"(I played) the top competition every single week," Adams said. "I hope the scouts can see that. (They see) my arm strength. I can work on my accuracy, and I can extend the play really well."
SOMEWHERE, ALEX SMILES: If bloodlines mattered as much as bench presses or body type, Illinois OG Ted Karras likely would be atop Mel Kiper's draft board.
The great-nephew of iconic Detroit Lions DT Alex Karras, Ted is the seventh member of his family to play Big Ten football and, he said, will be the fifth who will "get a shot at the NFL."
His dad, Ted Jr., was a replacement player during the strike-shortened 1987 season for the Redskins. Washington won the Super Bowl after the regulars returned.
"They're not going to, like, disown me if I don't make (the NFL)," said Ted, competing for the West. "We love football. I've been around football my whole life. Everyone's been a coach. It's just a great opportunity to be here, and … I want to take advantage of it."
TOPPERS TANDEM: A warning for USF fans tuning in to the game: Images of Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty throwing to WR Jared Dangerfield might be disturbing.
The pair hooked up six times for 92 yards — including a 26-yard touchdown — in the Hilltoppers' 45-35 victory against the Bulls in last month's Miami Beach Bowl.
Doughty, WKU's career and season passing yardage leader (12,855 and 5,055, respectively), was recruited to WKU by current USF coach Willie Taggart out of North Broward Prep. He tore an ACL early in the 2011 season but regained his starting job two seasons later. Saturday he'll share snaps with Adams and 6-foot-6 Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld for the West.
"It's crazy, man," Doughty said. "I would never have thought I was going to be in this situation three years ago. God's put some obstacles in your life, but I think it's important for you to build on those obstacles."