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Bill Haisten: Cole Adams makes another big play as the Owasso receiver chooses Alabama

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For two seasons, the state’s Most Dynamic Playmaker title belonged to Bixby’s Braylin Presley.

In advance of the 2022 season, the MDP distinction has switched from the southern half of Tulsa County to the northern half — to Owasso and wide receiver Cole Adams, who as recently as Saturday indicated he would announce his recruiting decision “in the next month or so.”

His finalists, as reported in the Sunday Tulsa World, were Alabama, OU and Arkansas.

Revealed much earlier than expected, his choice is Alabama.

Owasso’s dazzling senior made another big play on Wednesday, announcing on social media his commitment to Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. The Tide-Adams relationship began to roll in January — a full four months before OU extended a scholarship offer.

“Recruiting can put a lot of stress on a person,” Adams told the Tulsa World. “My parents said, ‘If you know what you want, go ahead and do it.’ It relieves a ton of pressure off of me. It’s a huge weight lifted off of me.”

In June, Adams made official visits to Alabama, OU and Arkansas. He says the OU and Arkansas coaches have been notified about his decision.

“That part of it is very difficult,” Adams said. “I had a great connection with all of these coaches.”

Adams unveiled his verdict in a 5:30 p.m. Wednesday tweet: “First, I want to give thanks to God. Without Him, this would not be possible. Second, I want to thank my family, friends, coaches, mentors and teammates for all of your support throughout my life and through the recruiting process.

“And finally, in the words of Lynyrd Skynyrd ... Sweet Home Alabama!”

When World photographer Mike Simons and I were in Owasso for an April 20 appointment with Adams, Alabama receivers coach Holman Wiggins was in Rams coach Bill Blankenship’s office, studying Adams video. This was about a month before Adams scored an offer from the Sooners.

Long before Alabama’s January start of a relationship with Adams, the Tide program had a relationship with Blankenship. When Blankenship was the University of Tulsa’s first-year head man in 2011, Wiggins was a Golden Hurricane staff member.

While NIL considerations have changed the game for some recruits, relationships for most recruits remain the No. 1 factor in a decision. I wondered in April whether Alabama’s early lead in the relationship game might give Saban an advantage in the process, and apparently it did.

“You’re going to make money no matter where you go these days,” Adams said. “For me, it’s not about the money. When I went on the official (visit to Alabama), it felt like home. When we drove in from Birmingham, it was 75 degrees in Tuscaloosa and everything was green and beautiful. I was like, ‘Wow. I can see myself being in this place.’

“In my heart this entire time, it always went back to Alabama. Why not go play for the best team and play in the best conference? That’s my philosophy. The SEC is the best league, and I want to play for a national championship.”

On Dec. 28, 2006, Oklahoma State defeated Alabama in the Independence Bowl. Six days later, Saban resigned as the Miami Dolphins’ head man and accepted the top job at Alabama.

In 15 seasons with Crimson Tide, Saban’s record is an unbelievable 183-25 with six national titles. In 2011-21, the Tide was 140-14. In eight seasons since the advent of the College Football Playoff, Alabama was a seven-time participant and a three-time champion.

“And for sure,” Adams stated, “Alabama knows how to develop players.”

During the Saban era, 113 Alabama players were selected in the NFL Draft and 39 were taken in the first round. Since 2014, 10 Tide wide receivers were drafted.

Outfitted with great hands and track speed, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Adams is rated by 247 Sports as the No. 5 Oklahoma prospect in the recruiting Class of 2023. Commitments are not binding. Major-college football recruits may sign national letters of intent on Dec. 15.

During his 2021 junior season, Adams had 55 catches for 913 yards and eight touchdowns. On 18 run plays, he averaged 10 yards per attempt. A weapon also on special teams, he scored on three kickoff returns and two punt returns.

Before setting his focus on Alabama, OU and Arkansas, Adams considered offers from 14 additional schools. Among them: the University of Tulsa, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa State, TCU, LSU and Tennessee.

Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn attended an Owasso spring-practice session, but the Cowboys did not offer a scholarship to Adams because they already have junior Brennan Presley as a smaller speed receiver, and also because Braylin Presley signed with OSU, moved to Stillwater a few weeks ago and says he expects to be used both as a slot receiver and running back.

Adams’ Alabama communications were managed mostly by Wiggins and Tide personnel operations director Sam Petitto, but Adams did get quality time with the 70-year-old Saban.

“During the first day in Tuscaloosa, we were all together for breakfast,” Adams recalled. “There was a name card at each seat. I found my seat. To the right of me, there was a card that said ‘Coach Saban’. My dad and I looked at each other and we were like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ It was a surreal moment. Coach Saban is actually pretty funny and has a lot of great stories to tell.

“I feel super happy and super relieved about all of this, and also I’m super excited to be a part of something as big and impressive as Alabama football. This is one of the biggest decisions of my life. I know I made the right choice. I’m 100% in it.”


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Sports Columnist

I joined the Tulsa World in 1990. Prior to becoming a sports columnist in 2016, I was the only sports writer in Tulsa World history to have covered OU, OSU, the University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts sports on an everyday basis. Phone: 918-581-8397

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