According to multiple reports, Washington received disappointing news today as WR coach Junior Adams has accepted the same position at Oregon with a co-OC title tacked on to sweeten the deal. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg first reported the news that it was set to happen while Yahoo’s Pete Thamel is reporting that it is done.
Sources: Washington WR coach Junior Adams has signed a deal to become the CO-OC and WR coach at Oregon. Adams is a high-end West Coast recruiter and a former OC at Western Kentucky. @ESPNRittenberg reported first.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 1, 2022
It became clear shortly after Kalen DeBoer was hired as head coach that he had made the decision to retain Junior Adams as the wide receivers coach at Washington. Star recruit Germie Bernard made the decision to not look around following the coaching change when he had stated that Adams’ presence would be enough to maintain his commitment. Receivers Terrell Bynum and Jalen McMillan both announced they would not be transferring. Adams appeared in pictures with recruits out on the trail with coach DeBoer.
Yet just a few weeks after the end of the early signing period Adams has now been poached by Oregon. Rumors of the move had floated around the internet over the past week or so and Bynum’s decision to ultimately go back on his previous decision and enter the transfer portal seemed like the canary in the coal mine for where this decision was headed. Jalen McMillan last night removed any mention or picture of UW from his twitter banner, profile picture, or description.
Adams came to Washington from his position as the OC/WR coach at Western Kentucky after having previously worked at Boise State and Eastern Washington. His recruiting chops paid dividends for the Huskies immediately as he helped secure a flip of Puka Nacua a few weeks after taking the job. Adams then went out and added 4-stars Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, Jabez Tinae, and Germie Bernard over the next 3 classes while also helping to get transfers Giles Jackson and Ja’Lynn Polk. Taj Davis is the only Husky receiver still on scholarship that Adams didn’t directly recruit.
Now Washington is left in a precarious position. There were indications that Kalen DeBoer wanted to bring up and coming Fresno WR coach Kirby Moore along with him from Fresno but he instead made the call to keep Adams. Now Moore has been named the OC at Fresno State under Jeff Tedford which likely eliminates that potential option when a WR coach with passing game coordinator title may have been good enough 3 weeks ago. Instead Washington will be looking to poach a candidate of their own and it will be a tough test for DeBoer to have to make a replacement so quickly after seemingly having his staff finalized.
From a roster standpoint this is sure to have an impact. We’ve already seen Bynum enter the transfer portal and it would not be a surprise to see either McMillan (and potentially Odunze) enter as well. Germie Bernard was set to enroll this week but now it would not be a surprise in the slightest to see him enter the portal and enroll at Oregon instead. What looked to be potentially one of the most talented position groups on the team could be torn apart in the coming days and weeks without a strong, quick hire by DeBoer (or even with it given the loyalty to Adams alone many of the WRs have displayed).
There’s no way to sugarcoat that this is a disaster from an optics standpoint. It would be one thing if Adams was taking a full offensive coordinator position at Oregon. However to lose a position coach in a purely lateral move to your chief rival is an incredibly bad look that will instantly kneecap Coach DeBoer’s attempts to gain relevancy across the region. The co-OC designation at least makes it seem like Adams is getting a partial upgrade in role but without play calling duties it’s a generally hollow addition to justify a larger salary.
It was certainly possible to make a coherent argument that Junior Adams didn’t deserve to be retained. He did raise the talent level of the position in his time but drops, route running issues, and a lack of effort still plagued the room. The quarterback play and the offense likely contributed to those missteps but there was clear room for improvement. If DeBoer had hired Moore from the get-go and then Oregon ultimately picked up a non-retained Adams then there would be clear comparisons made in the future between the two but ultimately I think many fans would have been okay with the end result.
Instead Washington is clearly being made to look like the little brother in the relationship. Despite rumors that the Huskies offered up to $7 million APY for Matt Campbell, there’s been no indication that Washington is willing to pony up to compete with Oregon or USC in dollars spent. The Huskies hired 6 position coaches including both coordinators from Fresno State and when the full numbers are released they will have at most equaled the previous salary pool for their assistant coaches and likely seen total compensation drop.
Maybe it’ll come out that Junior Adams’ salary at Oregon is so absurdly high that Cohen would’ve been committing malpractice to match it. But the likely 2 alternatives are either that Oregon offered more money than Washington could match or that Adams decided he would rather leave his current job to work under a 31-year old offensive coordinator than stay under DeBoer. Either is an indictment of the state of the program and the ability of the AD’s office to put forth the resources necessary to produce a winning team.
Husky fans now are in wait and see mode to determine just how bad the fallout from this move is going to be. There are currently 8 receivers on scholarship at a position that plays an average of 3 at a time. Any losses (which are likely) will leave that group perilously thin and require further replacements from the transfer portal. We saw what happened this year when Washington happened to suffer 4 injuries to the position at the same time in the opener against Montana. And meanwhile we will wait once again for DeBoer’s staff to truly be finalized.