Grad transfers Miller, Adams bring valuable experience to UMass football team

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AMHERST — Jarvis Miller and Jordan Adams are two of the newest members of the University of Massachusetts football program. The two of them will, however, be called on to provide some leadership.

That's because the two graduate transfers bring Power 5 football experience at the highest levels to UMass.

"I would just say lead by example," said Miller, a linebacker who came to UMass from Penn State. "I've been around a lot of great players who are in the NFL right now. I've seen a lot of football. I know what to expect, and just be that guy that people can lean on.

"Be there for the younger guys, help them out. This isn't my first rodeo, so I kind of know what to expect."

Miller, who played at Suffield (Conn.) High School before going to Penn State, played four years for the Nittany Lions, primarily on special teams but also as a reserve linebacker. He was the No. 2 outside linebacker behind starter Cam Brown.

Adams comes to UMass from West Virginia, where he played corner.

For Miller, it's an opportunity to return to his home region. For Adams, it's a chance to reconnect with UMass co-defensive coordinator Aazaar Abdul-Rahim.

"I've known Coach Aazaar since I was like 15 years old, training with him, and knew him as a good coach and a leader," Adams said. "It's about relationships nowadays."

Adams played high school football in Reisterstown, Md. He redshirted as a freshman at West Virginia, and played a reserve role for the Mountaineers in all four years after.

"After spring ball, I decided to go somewhere else," Adams said. "Once I entered the [transfer] portal, I pretty much got in touch with Coach Aazaar, the defensive coordinator and defensive back coach."

Abdul-Rahim, who came to UMass after three years as the secondary coach at the University of Maryland, said he's looking forward to what Miller and Adams will provide on the football field, in the locker room and around campus.

"I think it's important [because] one, we're a young team, so getting some seasoned veterans — and it doesn't hurt that they're from bigger — quote, unquote — schools. I think that's important," said Abdul-Rahim. "The other thing is their work ethic. Some kids haven't been around other programs ... and they're able to show some of these young kids how to work, and they've been vocal so far.

"Especially Jarvis. Jarvis has been great. Jarvis could easily be one of our team leaders right now."

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Miller knew his new coach before coming to Amherst, as well.

"A lot of the guys at Penn State were actually coached by him in high school," Miller said. "There are a lot of Maryland guys at Penn State. He's like a football guru in Maryland. Everyone knows his name."

Miller is the third former Penn State player to come to UMass, joining tight end Adam Breneman and wide receiver Alex Kenney. Miller was the third-ranked player in Connecticut as a senior. He said that playing for James Franklin at Penn State helped him develop as a football player, and Miller said that he brings some of Penn State to Amherst.

"I know how to compete at the highest level," Miller said. "We played the best teams, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan. I played in front of 110,000 before. I think that competitive edge and I try to bring it to practice every day, compete every rep and compete against everyone, no matter who it is, and just try to bring those attributes to the team."

Adams was considered among the top 15 receivers in his high school graduating class. At West Virginia, he spent all his time on the defensive side of the ball along with special teams.

While Adams knows Abdul-Rahim, he said he didn't know all that much about UMass.

"The only person I knew about from UMass was literally [Arizona Cardinals receiver] Andy Isabella," Adams said. "I definitely watched him in the Senior Bowl game. Being from West Virginia, we had a couple of guys in the game, as well. I was watching that and keeping up to date."

Adams was asked about the difference between being in Morgantown and being on the roster at UMass.

"Trying to understand the culture of UMass," he said. "It's definitely different than Morgantown. At the end of the day, it's all college football."

The Minutemen are working against the clock in preparation for their season opener in three weeks at Rutgers. Miller said that Franklin and the Nittany Lions preached one week at a time. It's something Miller is trying to live by at UMass.

"Obviously [a bowl game], that's our goal as it should be," he said. "But we just have to worry about Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers. That's what I took from Penn State. You never worried about the end of the season, never worried about championships.

"If you just take care of it week-by-week, all that good stuff will come."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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