The Meridian Star
The 2012 season was supposed to be a breakout year for East Mississippi Community College receiver Antoinne Adkins. After a freshman campaign that saw him account for nine touchdowns en route to helping the Lions to their first national championship in school history, the former Meridian High School standout was poised to be one of EMCC’s leading targets during his sophomore year.
While participating in summer drills, Adkins’ cleat stuck to the turf, causing his right knee to twist awkwardly and tearing his ACL. The injury sidelined him for the entire 2012 season, as his once-promising breakout year was put on hold –– possibly forever.
“First you go into the mental stage,” Adkins said of the injury. “ACL surgery to a football athlete is one of the hardest to recover from. You got to put it in your mind to where this is really what you want to do. You have to rehab, you got to go hard and this and that. But at the same time, the main thing I had to fight through was whether or not I was going to be able to get back to the same speed and cut like I used to.”
Spurred on by NFL running back Adrian Peterson, who came back from the same injury last season, Adkins spent countless hours in the weight room, regaining his strength and preparing himself for a comeback of his own.
“I feel like I’m at 100 percent now,” Adkins said. “I’m coming out of my breaks like I usually do and I got my speed back the way it was.
“I have plans to repeat and break more records as a team, more than we did in 2011. We got a great team this year. We have a lot of players that are on that level to win a national championship and a state championship.”
Now back on the field as a redshirt sophomore, Adkins will be catching passes from a third quarterback in as many years, as sophomore Dontreal Pruitt takes over behind center in 2013. Adkins, who played with former Lion and current Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace, said Pruitt displays the same rocket arm as Wallace and should be able to put up similar results at EMCC. Together, the duo has built up a repertoire that could prove deadly to opposing defenses this season.
“We have synced up a lot,” Adkins said of Pruitt. “Sometimes we work after practice to make sure we are on the same page. It takes a lot of work, because we always got to be on that same page. He needs to know where I am going to be on the field, and I need to make sure I get there. If one of us is off, anything can happen.”
During his freshman season with the Lions, Adkins was used both in the passing game and the running game, as EMCC often lined him up as the quarterback in the wildcat formation. This year, EMCC offensive coordinator Marcus Wood said Adkins could play a similar role as he will return as one of the team's biggest weapons on offense.
"He has gone through spring ball with us and he did really well," Wood said. "We are excited about what he can do this year. If he can have a replication of his freshman year here, that'd be great."
After beginning last year as the No. 1 team in the NJCAA, EMCC starts the season ranked No. 6 in the JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 rankings of top junior college teams. While the early projection is nothing to scoff at, Adkins has a different goal in mind as he looks to bring himself and his team back to the top.
“The rankings, they are just numbers,” Adkins said. “They really can’t determine what will happen before it happens. Even though we are ranked No. 6, I’m just ready to get on the field and show people how it’s going to be.”