A-Train keeps rolling
Three years removed from terrorizing area high schools on the gridiron, East Rutherford alum Adrian Wilkins, affectionately refereed to around Rutherford County as "A-Train," is making his presence felt as a member of the North Carolina Central Eagles.
Wilkins ended his Cavalier career the 2010 season where he compiled 1,368 rushing yards and 2,031 all-purpose yards as a kick and punt returner.
Now the 5-8, 170-pound redshirt sophomore has emerged as one of NCCU's premier playmakers.
In 2012 Wilkins played in 11 games and tallied 328 all purpose yards. He has already surpassed that total in just three games in 2013 (347).
After the Eagles started the year with a loss at Duke and an overtime win over St. Augustine's, Wilkins had a coming out party at Charlotte on Saturday, Sept. 14 catching a team-high five passes for 83 yards and finishing the game with 183 all-purpose yards in a 40-13 win.
"I'm proud of myself," Wilkins said on the field after the win. "I feel like I could have done better and scored a few more, but I'm proud of what I did."
With the Eagles leading Charlotte 13-0 to open the second half, Wilkins took half's opening kickoff, weaved in and out of Charlotte defenders and went 100 yards for a touchdown. The return was the second longest in NCCU history.
"It was a clear lane," Wilkins said of the return. "I got past the block and saw the whole field so I just hit it."
"Adrian's a good football player and we expect him to do that type of thing," NCCU's interim head coach Dwayne Foster said after the win. "He has great vision, great speed and great hands."
Wiklins' second big play of the afternoon came in the third quarter when he hauled in a short pass and scampered 47 yards before he was forced out of bounds at the Charlotte 8 yard line.
"I could have scored down there but I don't know what happened," Wilkins said through a chuckle when asked about the play after the game in front of a television camera and a handful of reporters.
The speedster from Forest City had his mother, brother and a close friend in the stands.
"I'm glad they didn't come from nothing and I gave them something to see," Wilkins said.
Wilkins' performance earned him MEAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Even though collegiate football keeps him in Durham 90 percent of the year, Wilkins remembers what he learned as a Cavalier.
"There's a lot more competition and hard work [in college] but I worked hard in high school so I carried it on into college," he said.
Wilkins, who still sports the same No. 21 he wore in high school, is currently the Eagles leading receiver with 10 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown, averaging 50.3 receiving yards per game and 15.1 yards per reception.
Wilkins' emergence could lead to an even bigger role as the season progresses, and he understands what it means.
"It means a whole lot to me," Wilkins said in his patented laid-back tone. "I'm very excited."
Wilkins and the rest of the Eagles look to go 3-1 on the year this Saturday as they host Towson University.