My lasting memory of Blue Adams was watching him on the sidelines of UC football games during his 1998-2002 tenure.
As his playing time increased, he often would come to the sidelines after a defensive series, take off one helmet and put on another.
I’m not sure where or how it started, but No. 24 would immediately put on a black construction helmet, complete with a C-Paw.
It represented UC’s defensive attitude at the time of “bringing your lunch, don’t break the chain, etc.”. (Defensive coaches typically come with a notebook of slogans and catch-phrases they’ve borrowed along the way.)
Plus, given the building that went on at UC (Under Construction) at the time, it was a very appropriate lid.
"I believe my helmet is somewhere," Adams said when I caught up with him prior to the recent UC/Miami (Ohio) game.
It was a rewarding encounter as I was walking through the Campus Green to the stadium and I noticed two young men waving at me.
I assumed they were former players, but after a few years, when you see them without their numbers, you’re never sure.
Fortunately for me, it was Blue and his teammate Tye Keith (story to come later).
That’s always the upside of the 14 years of doing games on the radio for me—having former players remember me.
In the case of Adams, he looks to be the same somewhat slight build. One of my old media guides lists him at 5-foot-10 and 184 pounds. (As an aside, the good-spirited Keith admitted he might’ve enjoyed a few more meals than Blue over the years.)
Adams now is an assistant coach with the Miami Dolphins and was in town for the following day’s Bengals/Fish tilt (naturally, won by Miami).
The former Miami Senior High standout still hasn’t adjusted to the northern weather as his Dolphins golf shirt wasn’t quite cutting it the evening of the Victory Bell game.
"We're going to the bookstore right now because I'm about to freeze," Adams said.
After his Bearcat career ended following the 2002 New Orleans Bowl, Adams had a tour of the NFL via free agency. One of his stops included Paul Brown Stadium.
"I was at the Bengals and Tampa," Adams said. "I kind of bounced around a little bit. It's a little better on the coaching side. You don't get banged up and then you can walk on Monday."
Thanks to connections from his pro days and his construction helmet mentality, Adams made it into the coaching business. His return to his hometown was far from a direct line.
"It just kind of happened for me that way," Adams said. "I started coaching at Purdue a little bit, then I was at Northern Iowa."
Now 33-years-old, he looks like he could still suit up and pass himself off as a collegiate defensive back. At UC, he at one time held the single-season interception record (six) and the career mark (12).
"One of the young guys passed me," Adams said.
Actually, two more future NFL defensive backs surpassed him with DeAngelo Smith picking off eight passes in 2007 and Mike Mickens finishing with 14 INTs when he finished in 2008.
He’s second on the UC list for in the “pick six” category with two; one less than Mickens and the legendary Shawn Ferguson (“It’s picked off by UC and I don’t know who has the ball!” quoth George Von Benko.)
His advice to defensive backs at all levels is simple, but extremely accurate.
"Technique, technique," Adams said. "From DBs to receivers to linemen, it's all about technique. At a certain point, everybody's good, everybody's strong and everybody's fast. The guy with the better technique always wins."
As the oldest of 13 children, Blue Adams won more often than not.
And, for those that don’t recall his freshman year in 1998 when he picked off four passes--his name was Danny Adams then.
Apparently, only his mother and grandmother are cleared to call him that. For everyone else, he’s Blue.
“That’s top secret classified information,” Adams confirmed.