Stay in school or go pro?
That question can haunt underclassmen, and in the case of former Clemson and new Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive end Gaines Adams, he was tormented twice.
In his first two seasons at Clemson, Adams barely caused a ripple. He was redshirted as a freshman in 2002, and then rarely saw the field in ‘03. It wasn’t until his redshirt sophomore year in ‘04 that Adams finally made a dent as a Tiger. He registered 35 tackles and eight sacks that year, prompting him to get graded by NFL scouts to see if he was draft-ready.
The results weren’t good.
Adams returned for his redshirt junior season and showed glimpses of an all-around playmaker. He totaled 56 tackles, 9.5 sacks and forced three fumbles. Again he asked for an NFL scouting grade, only to receive less than satisfactory marks.
Adams spent sleepless nights wondering whether or not to declare for the draft. His scouting grades were good enough to at least make him a first day selection, but that’s not what he wanted. That’s not what he thought he deserved.
So Adams returned for his fifth and final year as a Tiger, and this time, scouts took notice.
On his way to earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors, Adams played in all 12 games, finished with 10.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three recoveries. He was also selected to all five All-American teams, a feat that only two defensive players accomplished in ‘06 (Michigan’s LB LaMarr Woodley was the other).
Thanks to his impressive senior season, Adams was selected fourth overall by the Bucs in the ’07 NFL Draft. And who said staying in school was for losers?
After a slow start to his rookie season, Adams eventually made an impact along Tampa's defensive line. He finished his rookie year with six sacks, 38 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Adams on the Web
Official Tampa Bay Buccaneers Player Bio: Gaines Adams
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NFL.com Player Profile: Gaines Adams
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Rotoworld Player Page: Gaines Adams
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Gaines Adams Wikipedia Page
Find a comprehensive background on Gaines Adams's life and football career at Wikipedia.com.
Latest on Adams:
Adams struggled to make an impact early in 2007, but things started to click as the season wore on. After not recording a sack for the first five weeks, Adams finished with six QB takedowns, 38 tackles and two forced fumbles. Considering most rookie defensive ends struggle in their first year, those are fantastic numbers for a first year player.
Digging up Gaines Adams on the web
Adams, Sears on All-Rookie team
After a slow start, Gaines Adams had a strong finish to his first season and made the All-Rookie team.
Next stop for Adams? The weight room
One thing Gaines Adams wants to work on in the offseason is adding more mass, so he plans on hitting the weight room.
Carrying on the legacy
The Bucs have always prided themselves on defense. Rookie Gaines Adams gets that and wants to carry on the legacy.
Getting very defensive
Whether that was the plan or not, the Bucs loaded up on defense in the ’07 draft, with Gaines Adams leading the way.
Ex-Tiger Adams learning on the job
Former Clemson Tigers defensive end Gaines Adams is learning the nuances of the pro game on the field.
On primarily being a pass rusher:
“I did that in college, but with Coach Kiffin, I know he’s going to be able to elevate that part of my game even more. So I’m glad that I got a little taste of it in college so I will be able to expand on what I’ve been doing in college.
On learning new techniques in the NFL:
"In college I was so used to that first move working, so it's toughthat mine isn't working right now. Sometimes your second move won't work either, so you've got to go to your third move."
On struggling as a rookie in the NFL:
"I don't listen to (the criticism). I have high expectations for myself. All the outside things really don't mean much to me. I put enough pressure on myself. That is what motivates me to play hard, not the fans or the media."