Passing The Torch -- Adam Bledsoe Steps From Drew's Shadow

YAKIMA - While Drew Bledsoe was busy tearing up opponents and records at Walla Walla High School in 1988 and '89, his kid brother was busy doing what 11-year-olds usually do.

Goofing off.

"I went to the games but just messed around under the stands and stuff with my friends," Adam Bledsoe says. "I didn't pay as much attention as I probably should have."

Seven years later, Drew is the highest-paid player in the NFL. He went on to star at Washington State, became the top pick in the 1993 draft and the youngest quarterback to make the Pro Bowl. The New England Patriots signed him to a seven-year, $42 million contact.

Any room in the family for another quarterback?


Today, Adam Bledsoe is the quarterback of Eisenhower High School of Yakima. His statistics aren't making anyone forget about his megastar brother, but he has the size, the look, the arm - not to mention the last name - of a quarterback.

"It's not like I set out to chase Drew," Adam insists. "When I was little, I always pictured myself being a quarterback. It's what I always wanted to do."

His father, Mac, the quarterbacks and receivers coach at Eisenhower, knew that playing the same position as Drew might make it tough.

"We suggested he think about playing another position, but he wasn't interested in any other position," Mac says. "The important thing for him was to know it didn't matter to me. We would be happy and supportive with whatever decision he made."

While Drew went on to star at Washington State, the Bledsoe family moved to Yakima. One of the reasons was to give Adam the chance to develop his own talent away from the scrutiny of those who watched Drew grow up in Walla Walla.

"They involved me in the decision to move and that's one of the things they said would be good about it," Adam says. "It's worked out really well because I love this school."

Adam considers his junior season a respectable one. Not spectacular, but a success in relation to the highest standard - his expectations.

"I didn't set any records, or anything like that, but I did all right," he says. "I wish I could've done some things better, but quarterbacks always wish they could do some things better."

His passing numbers were modest but productive in Eisenhower's I-formation offense - 1,074 yards, eight touchdowns and a 45-percent completion rate.

Those numbers are far below Drew's as a high-school senior - 2,560 yards and 25 touchdowns. And they give little indication of what he is now, which is the hottest quarterback recruit in the state and nearly assured of a Division I scholarship of his choice.


Because colleges see a 6-foot-5, 205-pound athlete with a powerful and durable arm who can squat 400 pounds and has surprising speed.

And because they see a bright kid - one who has already scored nearly 1,200 on the Scholastic Assessment Test - and a cool leader who, in his first season as a starter, helped a team win seven of nine games.

And, of course, they cannot ignore his bloodline. Any recruiter who wants a glimpse of what Adam is made of need only watch the Bledsoe from the East Coast.

The danger is that some see only Adam's last name.

"The only bad thing is people always comparing me to him," he says, casting his eyes down with the resignation of having been down this road many times. "Those pressures haven't changed, but my attitude about them has. It's not so bad. I've got it in perspective, and I try to only let the positive side of it affect me."

Adam split time at quarterback as a sophomore on the junior varsity, then started for the varsity last year.

And in the season-opening game, at home, Adam threw eight straight incomplete passes.

"I was sure nervous," he concedes, "but it got better as the game went on. I wanted to prove to the team I could do the job."

The Cadets won that night and went on to a 7-2 season, missing the state playoffs by a win. The highlight was a 10-6 victory over eventual state runner-up Walla Walla, a game played in Yakima that Drew attended because the Patriots had a bye that week.

"I thought that was great - it was the first time he got to see me play," Adams says of the sideline visit. "The irony was thick. He came to Yakima to watch his alma mater. They were ranked fourth, and we won."

Six years separate the Bledsoe brothers, but they are close.

"Very close," assures Adam. "Ever since he moved away we get together as often as we can. He's a great football player, but he's a great person and role model, too."

Adam can list many good things about being Drew's brother - meeting famous players, traveling all over the country to watch him play and visiting the New England area regularly.

"It's great. For a kid, it's like a dream life," he says.

Mac Bledsoe, a former University of Washington lineman, has watched his youngest son mature and grow.

"We've always told our kids they ought to have higher standards for themselves than other people have for them," Mac says. "I've learned not to underestimate the goals and beliefs of a youngster. Their ideas can exceed your wildest dreams."

And Adam's dream of being a major-college quarterback is now apparently just a season and a choice away.

"I almost need a bigger mailbox to keep up with it," Coach Greg Gavin says of the recruiting correspondence, which is nationwide but primarily from the Big Ten and Pac-10. "I've sent out more film than I can remember."

And that's something, because last year Gavin was busy keeping up with requests for game film of linebacker Malcolm Stewart, now at Washington State. Sometimes recruiters would call back and say, "Stewart's pretty good but who's this number 12?"

"That made a difference for Adam," Mac Bledsoe says. "He got attention on his own without people knowing his name."

Says Adam, "I was a little surprised at the amount of interest because I didn't put up huge numbers. But I'm glad for it. I'm a 110-percent better quarterback now than I was last year. I can feel it. I've always dreamed of being a quarterback in college and now I can picture it happening."

To many, Washington State would seem to have the advantage. Maybe, maybe not.

"I grew up there watching Drew, and Coach (Mike) Price is a good friend of the family," Adam says. "But a lot of people look at that and say I'd be crazy to go there because my brother did. But there will be comparisons anywhere I go."

For now, Adam is thinking only of the season ahead and the season opener at University High in Spokane.

"I've worked hard on my short- to middle-range ball and understanding and reading coverages," he says. "Everything feels more natural now. It feels right."