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Coming into this season, Kingston senior Tyler Adams knew he would be getting a college wrestling scholarship sometime before the season ended. But when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in football it appeared as if that scholarship would go down the drain as many schools backed away from the Yellow Jacket star.
Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), however, never backed away and Adams signed with the Blue Raiders last week in a ceremony at Roane County High School.
“It's exciting,” Adams said. “I really wasn't expecting it. Some teams backed off when I injured my knee, but I feel God has given me a second chance to do what I love doing and have worked so hard for my whole life.”
For Tyler's father, Chris Adams, the signing was big for more several reasons as besides being Tyler's father, Chris Adams is also head coach of the Yellow Jackets wrestling team.
“As a coach, I'm obviously thrilled for the team,” Chris Adams said. “Anytime someone from our program gets an offer to compete at the next level we're happy.
“As Tyler's father, I know this has been a dream for him ever since he was little and I'm proud of him. This is a great opportunity for him and I know he's worked hard for this.
“He had verbally committed to UTC, but when he got hurt they pulled their offer and wanted him to walk on. Tyler was really down for a while and didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But MTSU stayed after him, they called him two or three times a day it seemed like. That and his visit there won him over.”
“Tyler Adams is the type of student athlete that Middle Tennessee State University is seeking to build its National Championship contending wrestling team. My goal as a coach is to have balance between academics and with Tyler this balance is achieved,” MTSU head coach Bryan Knepper added. “ Unfortunately, his senior season may have been taken from him due to injury, but he is still working towards the goal of being a champion. I look at this signing as both an opportunity for Tyler as well as for MTSU, as I believe Adams will be successful at the collegiate level immediately.”
When healthy, Adams is among the state's best. As a sophomore, Adams medalled at the TSSAA State Tournament and he would have been one of the favorites in the 160-pound weight class this season. Adams credits his success to an aggressive nature and his coaching.
“I try to be the aggressor when I'm out there. I don't want to give the guy I'm wrestling a chance to catch his breath,” he said. “My coaches, dad, David Bell and Blake Hartley, deserve all the credit. They've been working with me for 10 years and they've never backed off. It's because of how hard they've pushed me that I'm where I'm at.”
Adams is currently rehabbing his knee in an effort to defy doctor's predictions and make it back before the end of the season, but he is also working hard because he knows it won't be long before he starts his career in Murfreesboro.
“I know I've got a lot of hard work in front of me,” Adams said. “I'll have to be ready physically and mentally because college wrestling will be a lot tougher. But I know my dad and my other coaches will have me ready.”
Chris Adams agrees that his son has a lot of work in front of him, but he believes his toughest adjustment will be focusing on his opponent all the time.
“There are no easy matches in college,” Coach Adams said. “In high school, Tyler could get by at times without being at his best. He'll also have to get better at riding his opponent when he gets him on the mat.”
“I see Tyler as someone that will do whatever it takes to become the best at his craft, whether that is in school or on the wrestling mat,” Knepper added. “The fact that he spent the summer working with four-time state champion and NCAA All-American Matt Keller to hone his wrestling skills shows his determination and desire to be a champion. Tyler will vie for a starting position on the roster and have a chance to prove to others within the sport and to himself that he can have success at an elite level.”