Junior Adams can’t remember the exact year he first crossed paths with Chris Petersen.
He knows it was the early 2000s — sometime around 2004 — and Adams was a young coach taking a visit to Boise State. He had a few ties to those Petersen-coached teams. His friend, current Arizona defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, was on staff. The Broncos also had a player on their roster that Adams coached in high school. Adams followed his career, which meant he followed Boise State. And that meant he quickly became familiar with Petersen.
After that first trip, Adams traveled to Boise State a few other times to observe. He didn’t have much interaction with Petersen, but he did get to watch him work.
That was enough.
“The thing to me is, he’s a really good person,” Adams said. “He knows how to treat people but he also coaches the coaches. He treats everybody the same, with the utmost respect, and I think that’s awesome. He’s truly one of the best in the profession that way, to me, in how he treats people.”
It took until this offseason, when Adams expressed interest in the wide receivers coach opening, for the two to sit down for an in-depth conversation. But in all the years prior, Adams still kept close tabs on Petersen’s career.
Before uniting at UW, the two were never on the same staff. While Adams did serve as the wide receivers coach at Boise State from 2009-15, that was under current head coach Bryan Harsin. Harsin had been an assistant at Boise State from 2002-10.
“I’ve known (Junior) for a long time but he’s never coached with me, with us,” Petersen said in the spring. “He’s familiar with a lot of the things we’ve done over at Boise because a lot of that stuff stayed there. But still, it’s different. He is further along than somebody that hasn’t ever coached with us before. There’s a lot of carryover.”
It also helps that Adams watched Washington whenever possible — which was often. Adams said during fall practice that he probably watched every Husky game over the past four years. He even kept up with UW when he was on staff at Western Kentucky in 2017-18. Between his admiration for Petersen, his relationship with other Husky staff members and the players he knew on the roster, there were plenty of connections.
“We were similar in what we did scheme-wise,” Adams said. “I liked their style of play. These guys … they’ve always played with an edge. They played fast and they always looked like they’re having fun.”
Adams’ high opinion of Petersen hasn’t changed now that he’s on staff. Nothing about Petersen has surprised him, but he does know a few things first-hand now — like how helpful it can be for the head coach to be a former wide receivers coach.
“Really being in the building with him on a day-to-day basis, he’s got a brilliant football mind,” Adams said. “I like being around guys that … they may bring up an idea or they make a suggestion and they really make you think about the drill or how you said something or how you teach something or how to run a certain route or concept.”
Something else he learned: “He’s ultra-competitive. He’s ultra-competitive. He’s a good dude. He’s a good man. With him, it’s bigger than football, you know. I wish more people got a chance to experience Chris Petersen.”
Adams is Petersen’s fourth wide receivers coach in six seasons, and Petersen said at Pac-12 media day that he’s searching for stability in the role. He might have just found that in Adams, who called the position a “dream job” in a statement shortly after he was hired.
“He’s an experienced wide receivers coach,” Petersen said in the spring. “He knows what he’s doing. … I really like just being around him. I think he’s a really, really good.”
Adams’ players have raved about him since his arrival, and he has two four-star receivers committed in the 2020 class. By all appearances, Adams is just getting started.
“It’s been awesome,” Adams said. “I enjoy coming to work every day, I’ll tell you that. I’m very thankful for that.”