Big 12 Campus Correspondent
It doesn't bother Corey Adams that casual Wildcat fans don't know his name. It's just fine with him that most students he walks by on K-State's campus don't give him a second glance, thinking he's just another student rushing to class.
Even on the field, Adams can generally go through a game without ever being noticed, though he plays a vital role to K-State's success. Such is the life of a long snapper, where you don't get noticed unless something goes wrong.
This is probably the biggest reason Corey Adams is not a household name, even in the Little Apple. However, he should be. Entering the 2010 season, he was a perfect 356-of-356 on his snap attempts for both punts and field goals during this three-year K-State career. And while Adams may fly under the radar for the average football fan, that staggering figure has made him stand out as one of the premier long snapping specialists in college football.
"With a game-winning field goal, everyone always talks about the kicker," Adams said. "There has always been the saying, 'You can't have the game winning kick without the game winning snap.' But I'm fine with flying under the radar. It just comes with the job."
Adams first threw himself into long snapping during his freshman season of high school football. He decided he would do whatever it took to contribute to the varsity squad the following year.
"I wasn't very big at the time, and I knew I wouldn't be able to play my other position (defensive end)," Adams said. "To get onto the field for the varsity as a sophomore, I knew I would have to find a way in. So I started working on long snapping my whole freshman year and worked with my school's offensive line coach through that summer."
Adams and his family soon realized how far his talents might take him in life. His father, James, helped Corey realize his potential.
"I think my dad would be my biggest mentor for all of this because he would always take me out snapping four or five days a week, whether it was raining or snowing or anything like that," Adams said. "I remember snapping in some pretty nasty weather, and he would always just say, 'The game might be like this, so you've got to prepare for it.' "
All the hard work paid off when he started snapping for field goals at the beginning of his high school sophomore season. He eventually took over snapping for punts as well. In order to take his skills to the next level, he knew he would need instruction from professionals, so he started attending camps.
"The Ray Guy camp was the first camp I went to, and it kind of got my name out there for some coaches to see," Adams said. "Then, my junior year, I went to a camp run by Chris Sailer and Chris Rubio called 'Chris Sailer Kicking' down in Las Vegas. There, the long-snapping instructor, Chris Rubio, ranked me as the number one long snapper in the nation for my class."
After receiving that accolade, it didn't take long for colleges to come calling for Adams' talents. K-State was the first to reach out to him, giving the Wildcats the edge in the recruiting battle.
When he went on his official visits to various campuses, K-State felt the most like home. Manhattan is about the same size as his hometown of Monument, Colo., and he says the people were some of the most welcoming he had ever encountered. Because his hometown is only seven hours away, his parents have been in the stands for every game.
Adams has handled all of the Wildcats' long snapping duties since he arrived in 2007. His streak of perfect snaps is nothing short of amazing, though he is quick to 'knock on wood' when asked about it.
The job might be anonymous but it is pressurized. When called upon in big moments, Adams knows one slight mistake could mean disaster.
"We do the scenario of a game-winning field goal in practice a lot, but obviously it's a lot different with 50,000 people watching," Adams said. "You know, when you are on the field, you really don't even notice the crowd or anything like that. I don't even notice the defense because I have such a routine I go through. I get my feet set; I look back through my legs and get my hands set. It's like riding a bike. I really don't even have to think anymore. It's just so mechanical that every snap is the same."
It is that machine-like consistency that has set him apart from his peers. He was a preseason Playboy All-America candidate prior to this season and is a candidate for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award. He has even grown into a working relationship with his former instructor Chris Rubio, whose camps he returns to each year now as an instructor.
"Every year we have our camps out in Las Vegas in January and May, and I invite five or six of my best college guys to come back and help me out and instruct," Rubio said. "A ton of them want to come back and help, but I will only allow the guys who have not only proven themselves on the field but also who will represent me, themselves and their schools well to come.
"Corey is a guy that I just don't even have to worry about. He has become one of my lead instructors. Let me put it this way: He is as good of a human being as he is a long snapper and he is a phenomenal long snapper."
Adams will graduate with a degree in marketing in December. As he enters his final season of wearing number 42 for the purple and white, it is his hope that he can continue to fly under the radar ... except perhaps for NFL scouts.
Because when you're a long snapper, anonymity is no better way to measure success.