Adams, who as a redshirt freshman scored 11 mostly red-zone touchdowns for former coach Ralph Friedgen, played infrequently under first-year coach Randy Edsall after being suspended from the season-opening victory over Miami for violating an unspecified team rule.
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Even when had his most productive game of the season, rushing for 55 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries against Notre Dame on Nov. 12 at FedEx Field, Edsall conceded that Adams played well but said he was used more extensively because others were hurt.
Adams becomes the second player from this year's team to announce his plans to leave Maryland. Sophomore defensive end David Mackall (Edmondson) said Sunday that he received his release last week. They join 13 players with eligibility remaining that left -- or were asked to leave -- Maryland after Edsall replaced Friedgen.
Adams said in a statement sent to various media outlets that he was granted his release "with much anticipation and excitement" on Monday.
"I am sincerely thankful for both the academic and athletic opportunities afforded to me as a University of Maryland football player," Adams said. "The 2011 Maryland football season proved to be extremely challenging and disappointing for me and my fellow teammates. After prayerful consideration, I believe it is best for me to continue my education and my collegiate football career elsewhere.
"I take with me my cherished memories of Terrapin football, lifelong friendships and valuable life lessons. I wish Coach Edsall, the coaching staff and the Maryland football program as a whole much success today and always. I look forward to the days ahead."
Through an athletic department spokesman, Edsall declined comment.
Allen Lawrence, Adams' father, said in an interview that he left the decision up to his son.
"He has worked very hard in his three years. He has been very diligent for his athletic and academic success," Lawrence said from the family's home in Norcross, Ga. "It's been a tough year, without a doubt. It's been a tough year for him personally and for us as a family and for the school and the team. It's been a frustrating year for everyone. "
Lawrence said that the problems seemed to begin when Adams showed up sporting blonde hair for preseason camp.
"That was just a camp thing. It was a fun gesture to the team, but I think it was taken a lot of different ways," Lawrence said.
Lawrence said that his son's personality might have also been taken the wrong way by the new coaching staff.
"The perception was being skewed one way when we know him to be a certain type of person," Lawrence said. "They talk about the earrings and that swagger. I think as a football player you need swagger and confidence and that team lacked it. I think swagger has a bad connotation. ... D.J. is a very mature guy for his age. He's wise and he was raised the right way. He's not uninformed. He was a voice of reason on that team for a lot of guys who were still looking for guidance and direction."
Lawrence said that after his son served the one-game suspension, he thought he had worked his way into the backfield rotation during the second half of Maryland's loss at home to West Virginia.
"That's what was perplexing for us," Lawrence said. "After the suspension, he was told that they would all move forward. He saw them moving forward. He got plenty of time in the West Virginia game and he was a major contributor to the comeback, even though it was a loss. In the Towson game, he was contributing and then it just stopped."
After scoring a touchdown in the 28-3 win over the Tigers, Adams did not play in three straight games and four of the next five games before playing well against the Fighting Irish. He finished his Maryland career last Saturday by rushing three times for 41 yards and a touchdown in 56-41 loss at North Carolina State.
A source said that Adams and the Maryland coaches also clashed over the player's insistence of being an every-down back after being used as a backup to Da'Rel Scott in 2010 and Davin Meggett this season.
Adams has two seasons of eligibility remaining but has already used his redshirt year, meaning that he would only be able to play one season if he were to transfer to another Football Bowl Subdivision school. Adams didn't say in the release where he might be headed.