ARLINGTON, Texas — By the time Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams trotted out to return a punt against Tennessee on the night of Nov. 12, his mind was a jumbled mess of frustration and anger.
"I hadn't touched the ball yet, and that bothered me," Adams said. "But then I saw my roommate, (Arkansas linebacker) Jerico Nelson, and he was just like... 'That's enough of that,'... and it got me locked back in."
Just 60 yards later — 70 if you count the 10 yards Adams ran backward — Adams had one of the top highlights of the college football season with a dazzling, tackle-breaking punt return for a touchdown, jump-starting the Razorbacks' 49-7 win over the Volunteers.
"It's one of those plays that you can just watch over and over again," Arkansas safety Tramain Thomas said. "And deservedly so, it's really amazing."
The clip of the return quickly went viral — it's racked up more than 1 million hits on YouTube in the two months since — and propelled the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Adams from being a player that was well-known in SEC circles to a guy who everybody in the nation knew about.
"Things were a little different after that," Adams said. "People started yelling at me across the street and stuff like that, stopping me on campus to ask me what it was like to return the punt and all that stuff."
But Adams, a Little Rock, Ark., native, hasn't been a one-hit wonder. He's racked up 1,027 yards and seven touchdowns for the Razorbacks headed into tonight's Cotton Bowl against No. 8 Kansas State, was named the SEC special teams player of the year and also an All-America pick at the all-purpose spot.
"I'm really happy for Joe," Arkansas wide receiver Jarius Wright said. "He's a good friend of mine, too, so it's been great to watch all the success and attention he's received."
Adams, to his credit, hasn't become jaded by the attention that his now-famous punt return and his breakout season has brought. No matter how many times he's asked about it by fans, he'll always take the time to go back over it.
"That's the part about it I love the most," Adams said. "I love people coming up and talking to me about it, I guess I'm just a really social person because it's never bothered me when people have come up to me and wanted to talk about football.
"My dream growing up was always to be the best in whatever league I was playing in. When I got here, my dream was to be the best. Now I want to go on and be the best at what I do in the NFL. I love playing the game, I love being around my teammates. And I'd love to go out with a win in the Cotton Bowl."