Pro scouts took one look at a young Trey Adams, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection as a sophomore, and salivated over the possibilities while scribbling down the kid's superlatives.
Huge size. Light feet. Toughness. Quickness. Undeniable talent.
Yet two years ago and thereafter those same people winced whenever they saw the Washington offensive lineman, a guy who encountered serious misfortune not once but twice, his exquisite frame sorely damaged and his pro prospects put at risk.
Knee surgery. Back surgery. Sixteen games missed.
Now with his Huskies football career down to two outings, and his team inexplicably floundering, the 6-foot-8, 314-pound left tackle from Wenatchee, Washington, is doing a personal victory lap of sorts. At least others say he should.
"To me, there is no player in the Pac-12 or in the country who entered the year with so many questions," said Rob Rang, Northwest-based NFL draft analyst. "For him to come back from those injuries is one of the feel-good stories of the year in all of college football."
As he enters Friday's Apple Cup against Washington State, Adams has packed up a lot of his personal stuff at his college residence as he prepares for the next phase of his football world. He won't deny it--he's thought about what comes next.
"It's always in the back of your mind; you have to have a plan," he said, ready to join a bunch of his former UW teammates in the NFL. "It's definitely cool to see all those dudes, Kaleb (McGary), Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller, playing so well."
As he looks back at his time as a Husky, he counts a 9-yard run off a backward pass and near touchdown against Montana as a career highlight, followed by beating WSU in the snow in last year's Apple Cup.
See Adams in action on offense, a minute into this video clip below, and hear him sum up his career in the video clip above:
A lowlight? It's a toss-up between the torn ACL suffered at Arizona State in 2017 and the back injury he received in fall camp last year.
"Pain-wise, it was the back," Adams said. "With the ACL, you can't walk."
Rang, who watches every nuance in the great ones, notes that the offensive tackle's hands appear much stronger, giving him the ability to sustain blocks longer. Adams also has reclaimed the agility that made him such a promising player at the outset.
"With that initial quickness right off the snap, for a man of that size it's pretty remarkable," the analyst said.
That said, Adams will go high in the draft but he's no lock to be a first-rounder. It's an exceptional year for elite linemen. As good as he is, the UW player might be the fifth-best offensive tackle on the board. He'll have to go through a medical exam for the pros, too.
"I still believe he's very much in the top 50 mix," Rang said. "Usually with a guy with his size and talent, as a four-year starter, that's almost a guarantee of a first-round pick. This year, the talent is so good, he could drop down a few notches."
As Friday's big game approaches, Adams can't help but be a little reflective over a football journey that has mixed great success with considerable adversity. The highs and the lows, it was all worth it to him.
"I'm trying to savor every moment," he said. "Have fun. Help out the young dudes. Be a leader."
Adams actually received his first football scholarship offer from Washington State. He was 16 when he decided to play instead for Washington. Way back when, it was an Apple Cup battle over a kid from an apple orchard town.
He had a cousin who played baseball for the Cougars but that couldn't sway him. He liked the hunting outings the Palouse has to offer, still not enough for him to enroll in school there.
He doesn't mean to rub it in, but WSU wasn't even his second choice.
"Probably Michigan," Adams said.