College Sports

Assistant coach James Adams leaves Navy football program for Purdue

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo will need to find a new defensive assistant, an unexpected development at this point of the year.

Navy athletics spokesman Scott Strasemeier confirmed Monday afternoon that Purdue has hired defensive backs coach James Adams away from Navy. Adams departs after just one year on staff and leaves amidst spring practice.


Strasemeier said Adams’ final practice was Thursday.

“It didn’t take long to figure out that James Adams was a rising star in this profession,” Niumatalolo told The Capital in a text message Monday afternoon. “We are grateful for all his contributions to The Brotherhood. We wish James and his family all the best.”


Purdue coach Jeff Brohm has needed to overhaul his defensive staff this offseason with Adams the fourth new assistant brought aboard. Brohm fired defensive coordinator Bob Diaco last December following a 2-4 season. The Boilermakers closed the campaign on a four-game losing streak that was mostly blamed on the defense’s inability to get off the field.

Brad Lambert was hired away from Marshall to serve as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Brohm also hired Mark Hagen as defensive line coach and Ron English as cornerbacks coach.

Adams replaces Anthony Poindexter, who left Purdue to become co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Penn State. It would seem Adams will oversee the safeties for the Boilermarkers after coaching cornerbacks at Navy.

Niumatalolo hired Adams away from Western Michigan in February 2020 based off a strong recommendation from defensive coordinator Brian Newberry. Adams replaced Brian Norwood, who left Navy to become assistant head coach, passing defense coordinator and defensive backs coach at UCLA.

“Losing Brian Norwood, my dear friend and a really good coach, was hard. However, I feel like we landed in a good spot with James coming in,” Niumatalolo told The Capital last August. “Just a good person, man of integrity, man of faith, great teacher.

“I feel like we hit a home run with James.”

Adams was excited to land at Navy and told The Capital last August he and Newberry “speak a lot of the same language in terms of technique.” Newberry, a former defensive back at Baylor who has coached the secondary at every stop of his career, was disappointed to lose Adams.

“Excellent coach and better person. Left his mark on the staff and on his players in a short amount of time,” Newberry told The Capital in a text message. “James will do great at Purdue. We wish him all the best.”


Newberry has strictly tutored the safeties since arriving in Annapolis as Norwood then Adams coached the cornerbacks.

Robert Green, who served as Navy cornerbacks coach for three seasons and now holds the title of defensive assistant, had been helping Newberry and Adams with the defensive backs. Green, who played cornerback at Navy from 1994-97, will work with that position group for the remainder of spring camp as Niumatalolo begins the search for a new defensive assistant.

Adams, a native of Durham, North Carolina, who played linebacker at Wake Forest, has a strong connection with Lambert.

Lambert was defensive coordinator at Wake Forest while Adams was a player. When Lambert was hired as the inaugural head coach of UNC-Charlotte, he hired Adams as one of his five original assistants. Adams coached the secondary at Charlotte from 2012 to 2018.

Niumatalolo last August expressed concern that he might not be able to retain the up-and-coming assistant for long.

“Mark my words: This guy is going places,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I turn on the television someday and hear: Introducing the head coach of the Denver Broncos, James Adams. He’s a special, special football coach and a great man.”