In a few short days, high school football teams from around the First State will begin to prepare for a new season. For the many returning players, it’s another chance to compete for the ultimate goal, a state title. However, for others including Dover High School incoming freshman Jalen Adams, it’s the beginning of a long football journey.
Adams was a five-sport athlete at nearby Central Middle School playing football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and running track. He also recently participated in the TOP GUN invitation-only football camp in Dublin, Ohio working with former players and coaches from around the NFL. Now, Adams hopes to earn a spot on the Senators’ opening day varsity roster.
Adams began his football career at the age of 5, playing in the Camden Flag Football League before moving onto tackle football with the Dover-CR Raiders at age 9. His game progressed over the next three years and Adams eventually become the team’s defensive captain at linebacker and starting at running back on the offensive side of the ball.
“I first started playing running back and linebacker in fifth grade on my Pop Warner team, the Dover-CR Raiders,” Adams said. “The year before I played on the offensive and defensive line, so I asked Coach (Rob) Mason if I could get a chance to run the ball in a scrimmage and he let me.”
Adams said his experience at both positions and as a defensive captain has helped improve his skills, giving him the opportunity to make a difference immediately for the Senators this fall.
“Becoming one of the defensive captains for Central Middle was kind of expected of me since I started playing defense for them in 7th grade,” said Adams. “It did give me more confidence in my ability to play as well as feeling I had a larger responsibility to not let my team down. I know it prepared me to be successful at the middle school and high school levels.”
Also helping his transition to the high school game was Adams’ experience at the TOP GUN Football Camp in July.
“The experience was like no other,” Adams said. “Working with former NFL players was a once in a lifetime opportunity. They had so much knowledge of the game that their instruction helped my game grow both skill wise and intellectually.”
Dover High head football coach, Dante Jones also allowed Adams to work out with the team some this summer.
“Coach Jones gave me the chance to attend a couple of camps and play in several 7-on-7 games,” Adams said. “I was able to get in some reps at the running back, outside linebacker, and safety positions.”
Jones said Adams has the talent and smarts to play at a very high level in high school. He said he was impressed by his work this summer.
“Jalen has had a very good offseason,” Jones said. “He’s a very talented young man, not only on the field, but also in the classroom. We look forward to seeing how quickly he can pick up the speed of the game at the high school level. Jalen will have a very bright future with us.”
While Adams knows it’s rare to see a freshman make an impact at the varsity level immediately, he said he’s done everything possible to prepare for that scenario and reach the goals he’s set for himself.
In addition to everything else, Adams began weight training with his father Jon Harris, a physical trainer, hoping to gain an edge in the fall.
“My goals for my freshman season are to get some playing time on varsity, but I want to continue to get a good grasp on the offensive and defensive schemes,” Adams said. “I also plan to continue to do weight training with my Dad. I believe being in good physical condition will play a big part in helping me reach my goals.”
Adams’ spot with the Senators is not set in stone. However, he’s prepared for whichever role he finds himself in this season.
“What I’m looking forward to most is suiting up for Friday nights,” Adams said. “Right now I feel like Coach Jones and the rest of the staff have prepared me for any position. I’d humbly take any varsity spot [that] they felt confident I could do.”