Catching up with Adam Abrams (pt. 2)
We recently had the opportunity to interview Adam Abrams, #19, who was the place kicker for USC from 1994-1998, and was voted team captain for the 1998 squad. In yesterday's interview, Adam told us what it was like to be one of the top two high school kickers in the country when he was recruited, he summarized his five year career as a Trojan, talked about his former teammates, took on the "stereotype" of the outcast kicker, and differentiated between playing for the legend John Robinson and the not so legendary Paul Hackett.
This is the 2nd part of a two-day interview with Adam Abrams.
What was the Rose Bowl experience like for you? You hit a 46-yard field goal in that game. How did that make you feel? That was a big win, in the mid '90s for Trojan football, and most fans thought that was the start of a turnaround. Was it a letdown to drop back to .500 the following year?
The ’96 Rose Bowl was probably the highlight of my career. My 4th quarter field goal put us ahead of Northwestern by 2 late in the game and we held on to win by 9. It was my career long at the time and I knew the second I kicked it that it was good. Coach Robinson was a little reluctant to send me out but I told him that I’d make it. It was an amazing game for a fan to watch since Northwestern was such a Cinderella story and the game was back and forth the whole time. The game was watched by almost 20 million people which is a scary thought in hind sight. It was a great way to end the season for me personally and as a team. I thought our momentum would continue the following year but we regressed. I think the late '90s were a building block to a lot of the talent that came in the early 2000s that led to the championship teams.
You've seen the Trojans go on major streaks against their rivals the last few years, the 2006 UCLA game doesn't need to be included in this conversation. What was it like to never beat a UCLA team? And on the other side, what was it like to be on the team that finally ended the Irish's ridiculous 14 year streak?
It was so devastating to lose 5 years in a row to UCLA. The Bruins always seemed to have some gadget play or trick play that caught us off guard. There were some good battles but we were always on the short end. I was very disappointed after the ’96 game when we had a big lead and didn’t hang on. I had a chance to win the game on the last play of regulation and my kick was blocked. It was a pretty far kick from my weaker hash mark (left hash) and I wish Coach Robinson would have ran the ball to the center of the field for about 5 more yards on the play before my kick. I may have tried to over kick it but I’m still not sure what happened. It was a little low and they got good penetration too. Fortunately I made a kick in overtime to give us the lead but our defense couldn’t hang on. It hurts to think about losing all those games. As for Notre Dame, I had some amazing experiences. Breaking the streak in the overtime game in ’95 and the game winning kick I made at ND in ’97 were both my career highlights. A week doesn’t go by where I don’t hear about that game from someone. I get goose bumps every time I see the highlight. It’s such a great rivalry and I was fortunate to play in all those historic games and to come out on the winning end almost every time.
What did you do the year after you graduated USC? Did you have any thoughts of a career in football? Playing? Coaching? What takes up Adam Abrams time these days?
After my final season I was pretty burnt out on football. The emotional highs and lows were so overwhelming and consuming that I felt I needed a break. I tried out for a few pro teams but after my quad injury my kickoffs weren’t at a pro level. I feel I could have made it as a field goal kicker but I lost some of my drive. It’s actually much easier to kick in the pros than in college due to the pro hash marks being much narrower. I began working in the music industry in 2000 at Universal Music Group and am still with them. I am currently a project manager on CD releases. I have worked on projects that have combined to sell over 25 million units including a few number one records. I work on a series called “Now That’s What I Call Music” which is a compilation of current 20 top hits on one CD. I work in the catalog division of Universal which puts together greatest hits compilations, soundtracks, box sets, themed albums, etc. I recently went back to USC in ’03 and went through the MBA PM program which was one of the most challenging times of my life. (photo left; Adam getting his MBA at Marshall) It was very rigorous dealing with working full time and studying every night. I graduated from Marshall in May ’06 with my MBA and am looking to utilize it within the music and entertainment industries. I will soon be working in the marketing department for Universal Music. I miss kicking and have always wanted to get into some one on one coaching of kickers and still hope to some day.
What is your current relationship with Trojan football?
Right now I'm just a devout fan. I haven’t missed a home game since I graduated. As a grad school student I got to sit in the student section for 3 years and see what I missed out on while I was playing. I had no idea what went on on campus or in the stands. I went to the Orange Bowl in Miami and the last two Rose Bowls that we were in. I love watching the team play and am very proud of them. Recently I have made efforts to get more involved in the Trojan Football Alumni Club which provides many services and contributions to alumni USC football players in terms of networking, career guidance, socializing, and fund raising. I’m not a season ticket holder yet but I always buy tickets to the games or find a friend with extras. Unfortunately the administration eliminated the lifetime season ticket pass shortly before I graduated.
What's your opinion of the sold-out Coliseum and the seeming frenzy of the fans compared to the relatively hollow (or shallow) level of support that USC fans gave to PH in the last year of his tenure at USC?
It’s great for the university to have the excitement level and amount of fans that are going to the games now. It helps the team play better and supports the rest of the athletic teams. It’s a little bit harder to get in and out of the games and it’s a 10 hour event but it’s well worth it. When I played we used to have about 60K fans but with a sell out the players definitely feed off the energy. I love that the road fans are now in the top corner of the stadium as opposed to behind the closed end zone. The capacity crowd is very impressive for recruiting as well.
Finally, can you sum up your feelings about your time at USC, about being a part of Trojan football history, and of your feelings about the Trojan family?
My playing days at USC were some of the best times of my life and I have great memories. It instilled a lot of character and traits in me that I will utilize forever in anything I set my mind to. The highs were amazing and the lows were extremely difficult emotionally. The fans at USC expect the best and it’s a lot of pressure for a young student athlete. I’ll never forget the time when I hadn’t missed a kick in about 10 games and missed 3 meaningless FG’s against SDSU in ’98 and got booed off the field. It takes a lot of thick skin to be successful at this level and sometimes fans can be real harsh. I wish that some of the teams I played on would have had the same success as the 2000 era teams. We had the talent but didn’t play like a team the way they do now. I love when people remember my playing days and am thrilled to talk about my memories and be a part of Trojan football history. I was very lucky to get a great free education, travel the country, make great friends, as well as all the other perks that came along with playing football. Working in the music industry in LA, I come across many members of the Trojan family on a daily basis. There is always a bond there and it helps me get in the door places that I may not otherwise have access to. My door is always open to USC students looking to talk about the music industry and I often show students around my building as well as participate in some on campus recruiting events. The Trojan family should be the school’s strongest asset and I do my best to contribute to it.
The Herd wants to thank Adam for his time and effort in doing this interview. Fight on, Adam.