Mike Adams doesn't just pass the eye test. He aces it.
Long and relatively lean at 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, Adams has a body that makes line coaches salivate. Some 300-pound offensive linemen carry their weight poorly. Adams looks fit and boasts tremendous athleticism.
And in a strange way, that's his biggest problem.
You look at Mike Adams and you immediately think four-year starter, All-Big Ten performer, All-America selection and first-round NFL draft pick. He came to Ohio State as a decorated high school prospect, rated as the nation's No. 1 tackle by one national recruiting service and the No. 8 tackle by ESPN Recruiting in 2008.
Adams still could earn All-Big Ten and All-America honors, and he has time to climb the NFL draft boards. But in many ways, his college career is just getting started.
It took two seasons for Adams to overcome injuries, maturity issues both on and off the field, and the expectations to finally claim the starting left tackle spot for the Buckeyes. He was named Ohio State's Offensive Lineman of the Week following his performance in last Saturday's win against Ohio.
"The game's slowing down for me," Adams told ESPN.com this week. "It’s been a nice little battle I’ve got going, trying to get the mental part of the game together. A lot of guys, when they come in, they either pick it up quick or it might take a little bit longer."
From the moment Adams set foot on campus, he was pegged as a guy who would pick it up quick. Just look at him!
But his development was delayed, partly by injuries. He needed shoulder surgery before his freshman season, played four games that fall and then dealt with a foot injury. Adams missed three games last season because of a knee problem.
The homegrown product from nearby Dublin, Ohio, also had some off-field issues. In March 2009, Adams had a possession of drug paraphernalia charge against him dropped for insufficient evidence after police found a pipe in his car during a traffic stop. Adams also was suspended for Ohio State's first two games in 2009 for undisclosed reasons.
The Buckeyes junior has put those issues behind him and grown up on the field as well.
"He gets better and better all the time," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "He's got a lot of ability and he really seems to have grown to understand what it takes to play that left tackle [position]."
Adams was one of three elite offensive line prospects in Ohio State's 2008 class, joining J.B. Shugarts and Michael Brewster. The three met fairly early in high school and have remained close in Columbus.
Brewster became Ohio State's staring center as a true freshman, and Shugarts solidified himself as a starter last year. Adams' status wasn't clear until preseason camp, when he took control and claimed the starting left tackle spot.
"It’s something that really helped me out in the long run," Adams said of the competition. "When you come to college, there are high expectations and you have people coming at you from all angles, saying this, saying that. I'm just trying to live up to it now and get better and take this thing to the next level."
The physical tools are there, and if Adams continues to win the mind game, quarterback Terrelle Pryor should stay clean and the Buckeyes should go a long way this season.
"The more sure you are of everything in and around you, the better you’re going to be," Tressel said. "He's got height, weight, speed, he's got good feet, he's got good technique. He's got some outstanding challenges in front of him here, but I think he can be very good."