BATON ROUGE, La. -- A player can’t be considered a star when the average fan still reaches for a roster after he makes a play in order to make the connection between name and jersey number.
LSU’s Jamal Adams might be on the verge of making the transition from hyped newcomer to household name.
“That’s what’s kind of happening to him: ‘Who’s No. 33?’ and then they go look him up in the program because simply put, he’s making plays wherever you line him up at,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “That’s a great characteristic.”
The freshman safety’s name was already well known among recruitniks, as the No. 2 safety and No. 18 overall prospect on this year’s ESPN 300. He was the highest-rated defensive player to sign with LSU in February. He’s quickly gaining recognition among more casual fans -- and not just because of his dramatic flop against Florida after Gators punt returner Andre Debose lightly shoved Adams’ facemask.
That play, which went viral on the Internet and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Debose, has been a source of nonstop comedy in the LSU locker room, with several teammates comparing Adams’ antics to that of NBA superstar and noted flop king LeBron James.
“That was too funny. That was something I expect out of him,” safety Rickey Jefferson said. “Then he tweeted and said LeBron taught me.”
Linebacker Deion Jones agreed, adding, “It was hilarious. I laughed about it on the field.”
Running back Terrence Magee, who was only a few feet away when Debose’s attack occurred, also got a laugh out of the play.
“He’s been watching basketball too much,” Magee said.
Adams said the play exemplified his energetic on-field personality, which Miles has described as “electric.”
“I’m a character and I do whatever for the team,” Adams said. “That flop, everybody’s blowing it up, so it was just definitely something I needed to do at the time.”
His contributions of late are not limited to appearances on SportsCenter’s Not Top 10, however. Adams is getting significant playing time in LSU’s nickel and dime defensive packages and is one of the team’s most valuable special-teams performers. He leads the Tigers with nine special-teams tackles and delivered the key block that sprung Tre’Davious White for a 67-yard punt return touchdown last Saturday against Kentucky.
On White’s first return of the night, Adams noticed that his side of the field was wide open for a return and pleaded with White to bring the next punt his way. Sure enough, White ran toward the Kentucky sideline with his next return and Adams crushed Kentucky’s A.J. Stamps with the block that helped White sprint into the open field.
“He’s put himself in a great position to make big-time blocks for us,” White said. “I went back and watched the first punt that actually I took  yards. It could have been another touchdown if I would have just went outside. He was right and I did it that time and he made a big block like he said I would and sprung me for a touchdown.”
It was Adams’ most notable play in what was probably his best night as a Tiger to date. He continued to shine on the coverage teams, posting two special-teams tackles and also made his biggest impact yet on defensive downs. Adams finished with a career-high eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
“He has a motor that don’t stop,” White said. “He’s a guy that brings so much energy. He’s just not like that in games, he’s like that around practice. Very vocal, and he’s a young leader and we look forward to him making plays down the road for us.”
In truth, Adams is making plays now. Although he hasn’t started a game yet, he ranks fifth on the team with 37 tackles and is starting to live up to the preseason comparisons that LSU insiders made to former All-America safety Eric Reid.
Asked why he is becoming a more productive player, Adams fell back on the attributes that so many teammates cited while describing his game: He consistently shows great effort and energy.
“[LSU’s coaches have] been stressing how to be the player that you want to be,” Adams said. “They stress it hard in practice. It’s practice how you play, so every time in practice I’m going hard, I’m running hard, doing the little things. The little things separate you.”