Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2001 | 10:35 a.m.
Amy Seward walked into the banquet room at Big Dog's Cafe, as she normally does on Monday afternoon for John Robinson's weekly Rebel football booster luncheon, when she heard two very unexpected words.
"Hi mom," son Adam said.
Adam Seward, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound redshirt freshman linebacker from Bonanza High School, and Jamaal Brimmer, a redshirt freshman safety from Durango High School, were the guest speakers at Monday's luncheon.
"I was going to call her and tell her but I thought I'd surprise her and see what her faced looked like when I showed up," said Seward, who found out that morning he would be speaking. "She just about freaked out. She had this big smile on her face."
Amy Seward isn't the only one smiling about her son these days.
"If you took the top freshman players on the West Coast and put them in a (college) draft, I bet you Adam would be one of the first ones picked," Robinson said.
Indeed, in what has turned out to be a very disappointing season for Rebel football so far this year, Seward has been one of the few bright spots.
He ranks seventh on the team in tackles with 26, including two sacks, and has started the last three games at strongside outside linebacker.
"I think Adam and (sophomore middle linebacker) Ryan Claridge are great young linebacker prospects," Robinson said. "(Seward) has perfect size, aggressiveness, intelligence ... he has everything you'd want out of a linebacker at any place in America."
Robinson said he isn't surprised the redshirt freshman has moved his way into the starting lineup so quickly.
"The thing about it is last year when he was redshirting he was really aggressive on the opponent squad," Robinson said. "We kind of looked at that and said, 'Hey, we've got one.' Same thing right now with Joe Micklos. You can see it when they're redshirting that they can play."
"Yeah, I am surprised somewhat that I'm starting now," Seward said. "But I think James Sunia and Lamar Owens and Shanga Wilson have taught me a lot and kind of took me under their wings. I thought I was a pretty decent player. But to be at the point that I'm starting regularly and having pretty good games and making a few tackles out there is a real surprise to me."
Almost as much of a surprise as being asked to speak at the booster luncheon.
"I didn't expect him to be here," Amy Seward said. "Usually they don't have freshmen."
"It's a tremendous honor," Adam said. "I know there are some big-time seniors and juniors who have been here. I'm so happy that Coach Robinson asked me to do this."
Thomas was mad that wide receiver Bobby Nero, no stranger to dropped passes this season, made another key drop of a 60-yard Thomas pass at the Rams' 15 with 20 seconds left that would have given UNLV a chance at a game-winning field goal.
"We need people out there to make plays," Thomas said afterward in the locker room. "The play could've been made."
Said Robinson: "They were stupid comments. (Thomas) was appalled that he said it. But it was the frustration ... you cannot do that. You cannot say anything within reference to your own teammates. I explained to him that just doesn't work."
Robinson said Thomas apologized to his teammates on Sunday.
"It was a dumb thing," Robinson added.
"We're not going to let him play this weekend, so we can end that speculation," Robinson said of the 5-6, 153-pound Dorsey, who was listed as doubtful in the team's media release.
Meanwhile, senior defensive end Anton Palepoi (strained knee ligament), who sat out the last two games, is listed as probable and is expected to try to practice tonight.
Two starters who are listed as questionable are fullback Steven Costa (turf toe) and offensive tackle Brandon Bair (thigh bruise). Despite suffering the injury on the first series of the game against Colorado State, Bair remained in the contest and finished with his highest blocking grade of the season (94 percent) to go along with four knockdown blocks.
The game, which will appear on 20 stations throughout the nation, will be shown locally on KFBT TV Gold 33 in Las Vegas.