Tyrie Adams Makes Unlikely Journey to CFL

A few weeks ago, a glance at the depth chart would have shown Tyrie Adams as a potential long shot to make the roster. Behind not only Jeremiah Masoli and Caleb Evans, Adams was also going to have to find a way to steal a job from both Devlin Hodges and Taryn Christion. Now, the path has opened up after Hodges and Christion retired, and Adams suddenly appears to have a much bigger role on the Redblacks’ roster.

Adams played four seasons at Western Carolina University, where he played 44 games. In that time, he passed for 8,978 yards, 64 touchdowns, while throwing 32 interceptions and completing 63 percent of his passes. His arm was far from his only weapon in college, however, as he rushed for 2,547 yards, including a season where he scrambled for 1,006 yards in 2018.

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The 2021 season offered a change of scenery for Adams, signing with the Salina Liberty in Champions Indoor Football. In his short time in the league, Adams completed nearly 71 percent of his passes for 944 yards and 25 touchdowns. This was offset by just three interceptions, as Adams led his team to first place in CIF.

On April 21st, the Redblacks made their signing of the 24-year-old official.

“I was playing indoor football in Kansas, and out of nowhere, I got a message saying the Redblacks were interested and looking for a quarterback,” Adams said. “Within about two or three days, I was signed, and got up here about two weeks later.”

Tyrie Adams, Ottawa Redblacks – Frankie Benvenuti / 13th Man Sports

Of course, one of the biggest adjustments for any American player coming to Canada, especially for quarterbacks, is some of the rule changes. Although they no longer need to deal with the wide hash marks making the wide side of the field nearly inaccessible, there are still numerous things that take time to get used to. Even though Adams has never played in Canada before, the new rules weren’t a complete surprise to him.

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“I knew a couple of the rules because I have a lot of friends that play in the CFL,” he said. “I keep up with it a little bit, but there are some small things that I did not know.”

“We have high motion and the waggle in the indoor league, but the only difference is the field is much bigger [in the CFL]. The playbook is much more complex than when you are playing arena ball. It’s more route tree numbers, wherein arena you’re naming everything that everyone has. It’s more concept-based here.”

Head coach Paul LaPolice noted that without veteran quarterbacks at rookie camp, he has had to do more coaching in the huddle. Adams echoed that, saying one of the biggest challenges so far has been calling plays, and the pace at which it needs to be done.

Related: LaPolice Adapting at Redblacks Rookie Camp

“You’ve gotta be quicker,” Adams said. “First and foremost, you’ve got a shorter play clock here, you’ve only got 20 seconds here, as opposed to 30 or 40 before the snap in the indoor league. You gotta get in there quicker, and you can’t call the play two or three times to make sure the guys got it. You have to have trust in your guys, because they know the playbook just as well as I know it. Call it one time, get them in, get them out, and we gotta go.”

For a rookie playing in his first training camp at the CFL level, Adams is surprisingly unbothered by the pressure of the situation.

“I got here, walked on the field, threw on the field a little bit, that took all my jitters away,” he said. “I felt so comfortable and confident coming out to the first day of camp, and all I can do is stack on top of it now.”

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Part of the reason he has shown to be unshakable early on is the camaraderie within the quarterback’s room. The trio of Adams, Concordia Stingers’ pivot Oliver Roy, and David Moore have consistently picked each other up after mistakes and celebrated each other’s successes together.

Between Adams and Moore, there is a previous connection. When Moore was about to face Mercer University in his time with Central Michigan, he noticed that Adams had played them the week before. Moore reached out on Instagram, and ever since, the two have been friends.

David Moore, Ottawa Redblacks – Frankie Benvenuti / 13th Man Sports

“Oliver Roy knows he’s still in college, but with David Moore and I, we actually knew each other before this,” Adams said. “He congratulated me when I signed, and then I saw that he was coming here about two days before I got here. We’re so close with each other already, all we know is how to help each other on the field and off of it.”

The young pivot isn’t shying away from the opportunity in front of him right now, but Adams knows it has taken a lot for him to get there. He’s cleared just about every hurdle in his path so far, but there’s one that he will never be able to clear.

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“One hurdle that I still haven’t overcome is my size,” Adams said. “I’m an undersized quarterback, and it’s a blessing that Ottawa took the chance with me. As long as I can show that I can progress, and I can make the reads, that’s what’s going to be able to put me on top.”

Even with him being undersized, Adams isn’t ready to make radical changes to his game. He knows what he is, and he’s ready to do whatever his coaches need from him, this season.

“My game is within a system,” he said. “I play within the system, and I make plays when there is no play to be made. I like to say I’m a pocket quarterback.”


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