(SportsNetwork.com) - The complexion of the 2015 FCS season changed greatly on Monday.
Perhaps the FBS season did as well.
Eastern Washington University quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., the runner-up each of the past two seasons for the Walter Payton Award which honors the FCS player of the year, announced on social media his plan to accept a scholarship from the University of Oregon later this year and complete his final season of eligibility with the national runner-up Ducks - perhaps as the replacement for Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Adams wrote, "Oregon it is! First off, I want to thank God for this amazing opportunity. I want to thank all of Eagle Nation for all the love and support. Want to thank every single one of my teammates for pushing me to be a better man/athlete everyday these past 4 years. Definitely want to thank Coach B, the coaching staff, and the everybody upstairs who has something to do with my success ...
"Thank you Coach B for being the first school to ever offer me, you'l always be a good friend of mine. I also want to thank all the other athletes and coaching staffs here at EWU for all the love and support." I'm going to miss y'all forever Cheney/Spokane, but I have to do what I think is best for me and my family."
The dual-threat 6-foot, 190-pounder, who received additional attention from UCLA and Texas as he contemplated his decision, would be eligible to play immediately for Oregon next season under the NCAA's graduate student transfer- exception rule. Oregon offers his field of study - recreation management - in its graduate program.
Adams, 22, has drawn comparisons to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. In 2011, Wilson made the same type of transfer in graduating from North Carolina State and then spending his final season of eligibility at Wisconsin.
Adams, also the Big Sky Conference offensive player of the year each of the past two seasons, is scheduled to graduate from Eastern Washington in June, and the native of Pasadena, California, has the additional season of eligibility remaining after redshirting in the fall of 2011.
At Eastern Washington, Adams helped coach Beau Baldwin's Eagles win the last three Big Sky titles while accounting for 11,670 total yards (10,438 passing, 1,232 rushing) and 121 touchdowns (110 passing, 11 rushing) in 37 career games.
"I am very thankful for everything Vernon has done for Eastern and our football program these past four seasons," Baldwin said. "I wish him nothing but the best in his senior season. We are very confident in the quarterbacks in our program, and our expectations and goals are the same for what we are capable of accomplishing in the 2015 season."
Said Eastern Washington athletic director Bill Chaves: "We wish Vernon the best in his future endeavors and thank him for all that he has done for Eastern. The chance for him to pursue this opportunity is certainly a unique one given the fifth-year transfer rule. We are not sure that this was the actual intent of the legislation when it was approved, but it is the rule currently in place that we and potentially other schools have to adhere to. We will continue to work through the process of this transfer based on the rule as it stands now."
Adams will not participate in spring practices at Oregon and will have to win the Ducks' starting job over other candidates, including Jeff Lockie, Mariota's primary backup the last two seasons.
But adding to the prospect that Adams could make a smooth transition in transferring up a level is that he has posted huge games against two of Oregon's fellow Pac-12 schools, Oregon State and Washington. He accounted for 519 yards of offense and six total touchdowns in a 49-46 win over Oregon State to open the 2013 campaign, and passed for 475 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns in a 59-52 loss to Washington last September.
Ironically, Eastern Washington will play at Oregon when both open their season on Sept. 5.
As Eastern Washington tries to regroup as an FCS national power, it might turn to Jordan West, who backed him Adams last season and made four starts when Adams was sidelined by a broken right foot. West, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, completed 86-of-142 pass attempts (60.6 percent) for 1,072 yards, nine touchdowns and one interception in seven games last season.