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Gaines Adams
Height: 6-5 | Weight: 258 | Position:DE | College: Clemson

Regarded as one of the elite athletes in college football, Adams became only the second player since the school began playing football in 1896 to earn unanimous All-American first-team honors in 2006. The only other Tiger to be awarded such an honor was safety Terry Kinard in 1982.

The Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year was known for his game-changing playmaking ability as a senior, leading the ACC and ranking fourth in the nation with an average of 0.96 sacks per game. His 28.0 career sacks tied the school record held by Michael Dean Perry (1984-87).

Adams was a two-time All-State selection and All-Lakelands Class A Player of the Year as a senior at Cambridge Academy, where he played for former All-Southeastern Conference and South Carolina quarterback Steve Taneyhill. He was rated a three-star prospect by Rivals100.com, even though his school played eight-man football.

Adams registered 14.0 sacks, leading his team to the 2000 state title. That year, he also had 57 catches for 1,680 yards and 20 touchdowns on offense and posted 78 solo tackles along with five interceptions as a defensive end. In three seasons at Cambridge, he had 158 receptions for 4,394 yard and 65 touchdowns, 341 tackles, 10 interceptions and 33.0 sacks.

In 2001, Adams played for head coach John Shuman at Fork Union Prep. He totaled 58 tackles, 22.0 sacks, and two interceptions in ten games. Upon graduating, Adams enrolled at Clemson, choosing the school over Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. He spent the 2002 season as a defensive end on the scout team.

Adams appeared in just a handful of plays during the first three games of the 2003 season before joining the second unit at boundary defensive end. In 172 snaps, he posted 15 tackles (11 solos) with four stops for losses, including one sack and seven pressures. He also batted away two passes.

The 2004 season saw Adams again play mostly in reserve, but he tied for second on the team with five sacks. He collected 35 tackles (22 solos), eight stops behind the line of scrimmage and five pressures. He also blocked two kicks, the first time in school history that a down lineman accomplished that feat in one season.

As a junior, Adams started at boundary defensive end. He became the first Clemson defensive lineman to lead the team in pass break-ups since Mark Heniford in 1977, and his nine pass deflections were the most ever by a Tiger defensive lineman. His 9.5 sacks established a school record for a junior, breaking the record of nine set by Perry in 1986. He tied for third in the ACC in forced fumbles (three) and his 15 tackles for loss were most on the team and sixth in the conference. He also came up with 45 tackles (26 solos), three forced fumbles and 29 pressures.

Having earned All-American and All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team honors in 2006, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year registered 62 tackles (42 solos) with a career-high 12.5 sacks, 17.5 stops for losses and 26 pressures. He batted away six passes and caused two fumbles. He also recovered three fumbles, returning one for a touchdown.

In 48 games at Clemson, Adams started 26 times. He finished his career with 168 tackles (112 solos), 28 sacks for minus-192 yards and 44.5 stops for losses totaling 223 yards. He had 66 quarterback pressures and 21 pass deflections. He blocked two kicks and caused six fumbles. He also recovered three fumbles for 85 yards in returns, including one score.


Positives: Has adequate muscle development with a tight midsection, good bubble, cut high … Has that sudden burst needed to surprise a lethargic blocker coming off the snap … Shows the range and pursuit quickness to chase down ball carriers turning the corner … Demonstrates good balance and body control working through trash … Has the functional strength and adequate use of hands to get a push off the lineman in attempts to slip through blocks … Normal reps type who displayed better leadership ability as a senior than he did in the past … Does a good job of using his hands to disengage and has good explosion coming off the snap … Generates a quick arm-over move to escape and can be sudden in his burst to gain advantage … Can beat his man with his explosive initial step and has the change of direction agility to get wide and make plays along the perimeter … Shows good hand usage, keeping his arms constantly moving to gain leverage and defeat blocks, especially at the point of attack … Has the height advantage and leaping ability to obstruct the quarterback's passing view, and times his leaps well to bat down a good share of passes at the line of scrimmage … Very effective using club moves when combating combo blocks … Active with his hands and has enough upper body strength to push back the lead blocker when filling the gaps … Decisive taking on contact, redirecting fluidly while generating a low charge … Chases quickly in pursuit and has the lateral agility to string plays wide (his knee bend lets him redirect fluidly) … Displays good reverse spin moves to apply backside pressure and has the valid foot quickness and backpedal to drop back in zone coverage … Needs to add bulk, but compensates by utilizing his quickness to defeat blocks, fight pressure and work back to the ball … Has the explosive burst to close on the quarterback once he clears the line of scrimmage.

Negatives: Needs to add bulk and muscle tone, as he has only adequate development … Lacks the brute strength to combat double teams working in-line … Tends to get too frustrated and throttles down when his initial moves fail … Has only adequate recognition for blocking schemes (best when isolated in one-on-one situations) … Has a good burst off the snap, but tires late in games, gradually rising out of his pads rather than exploding … While he shows aggression, he tries use his upper body strength to overpower blockers, rather than swim and rip through the blocks … Lacks consistency on the bull rush, mostly due to slender calves and poor leg drive that prevents him from getting free from the larger offensive tackles … Can handle tough coaching, but will take plays off and works best when someone is lighting a fire under him (has a nonchalant attitude at times) … When a blocker locks on to his jersey, Adams struggles to disengage, lacking the hand strength to overpower (gets frustrated and out of control, taking several plays to settle down) … Blockers have good success in attacking his body when he gets too high in his stance, leaving himself exposed … Not a classic wrap-up tackler, playing more with a drag-down style … Leaves his feet and lunges at ball carriers rather than getting in position and keeping his pads down to wrap and secure … Needs room to operate, as he struggles to shed in tight quarters (only made four tackles inside the red zone in 2006 on 582 plays) … Might struggle with a complicated playbook (scored 7 on his initial Wonderlic).

Compares To: LEONARD LITTLE-St. Louis … Adams is a bit taller than Little, but both are more along the lines of 'tweeners, as they lack ideal bulk you look for in a down lineman. However, both have excellent quickness coming off the edge and good change of direction agility. Adams is a great pass deflector who times his leaps well to knock the ball down at the line of scrimmage. He showed better maturity and less frustration on the field in 2006 than he did in the past. He lacks the sand in his pants to face up to the bigger offensive tackles, and needs to improve his size and strength for the next level. Ideally, he finds a home as an edge rusher in a Cover-2 scheme.

Career Notes

Adams deflected 21 passes during his career, two short of the school all-time record for down linemen of 23 by Levon Kirkland (1988-91) … His nine pass deflections in 2005 set a school single-season record for down linemen and he became the first defensive lineman to lead the team in that category in a season since defensive end Mark Heniford batted away seven passes in 1977 … Joined Michael Dean Perry (1984-87) as the school's all-time leader with 28 career sacks … His 12.5 sacks in 2006 rank second on the school single-season record list behind Keith Adams (16 in 1999) … Adams' 66 quarterback pressures set a Clemson all-time record … His six caused fumbles rank sixth in school history and his 44.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage rank ninth … Had a streak of eight consecutive games with at least one quarterback sack in 2006, breaking the old school record of five that was held by Keith Adams, Leroy Hill and Chester McGlockton.

2006 Season

Became only the second player in school history to earn unanimous All-American first-team honors, joining Terry Kinard (1982) … Unanimous All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team pick and ACC Defensive Player of the Year … One of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is given to the top defensive player in college football … One of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Award, the honor given to the top defensive end in college football … Started all year at boundary defensive end, ranking tied for fourth nationally and led the conference with 12.5 sacks for minus 87 yards … Led the team with 17.5 stops for losses of 106 yards and 25 pressures … Recovered three fumbles for 85 yards in returns, including a 66-yard touchdown … Caused a pair of fumbles and deflected six passes … Recorded 62 tackles (42 solos) in 582 plays … 46 of his plays came vs. the run, with 23 more in passing situations … Registered 22 third-down stops (15 vs. the run, 7 vs. the pass) and had one fourth-down tackle … The defensive captain was penalized only once during the season … Earned ACC Player of the Week honors vs. Florida State and Wake Forest.

2006 Game Analysis

Florida Atlantic … Opened the season with four tackles, a pressure and a stop of B.J. Manley for a 3-yard loss on the game's second play from scrimmage … Head to Head Competition-OT#52-Nello Faulk.

Boston College … Limited to only two solo tackles, but registered four pressures … Batted down a third-&-6 pass by Matt Ryan early in the fourth quarter, forcing BC to punt … Also recovered a fumble by tailback Andre Callender in the second quarter, returning the ball 14 yards before QB Matt Ryan tackled him … Head to Head Competition-OT#70-James Marten.

Florida State … Produced seven tackles with 2.5 sacks for minus 6 yards and a pair of pressures … Sacked Drew Weatherford for a 4-yard loss late in the first quarter and took the QB down again for minus 2 yards three minutes into the second half … Head to Head Competition-OT#75-Mario Henderson.

North Carolina … Adams had only one solo tackle, but it was good for a 4-yard sack of QB Cam Sexton on a third-&-9 play late in the first quarter, forcing UNC to punt … He added four pressures, including one on a third-&-11 play that saw sexton throw an incomplete pass, causing the Tar Heels to punt … Head to Head Competition-OT#65-Brian Chacos.

Louisiana Tech … Added four solo tackles, two pressures and a 5-yard sack of QB Zac Champion five minutes into the game … Head to Head Competition-OT#73-Tyler Miller.

Wake Forest … Adams returned a fumble for a score to spark Clemson's rally from 14 points down in the fourth quarter of a 27-17 victory … The defensive end was in on eight tackles with two sacks for minus 23 yards and three stops behind the line of scrimmage …

He sacked QB Riley Skinner for an 8-yard loss, causing a fumble on that third-&-18 second quarter play, but Wake Forest recovered the ball and was forced to punt on the next play …

At the start of the second half, Clemson was accessed a 15-yard penalty when Adams was flagged for a personal foul on the final play of the second quarter … He made up for that miscue by scooping up a fumble and racing 66 yards for the momentum-changing score on the first play of the fourth quarter … Adams then sealed the win when he sacked Skinner for a 7-yard loss with 1:12 left to play and two plays later, tackled Willie Idlette on a third-&-12 toss from Skinner that netted only 3 yards and Clemson then ran out the clock … Head to Head Competition-OT#75-Steve Vallos.

Temple … The Tigers held the Owls to 221 yards, as Adams had a sack, tying a school record by recording at least one sack in his fifth straight game. He then enjoyed the second half from the sideline. "It was a great game to have," Adams said. "Younger guys came out and got the jitters out." … The pass rusher also registered a third-&-5 pressure on QB Vaughn Charlton, who threw an incomplete pass and the Owls then punted … His sack of Charlton came on a third-&-9 play during the team's next drive, good for a 13-yard loss … Head to Head Competition-OT#73-Devin Tyler.

Georgia Tech … Adams made three solo tackles with four pressures, a sack, a pass break-up and two stops behind the line of scrimmage … He tackled Reggie Ball for a 4-yard loss on a third-&-1 bootleg in the first quarter and pressured the passer into throwing an incomplete pass on fourth-&-4 with three minutes left in the first half … His 7-yard sack of Ball on third-&-5 with eleven minutes left in the game gave Adams his school-record sixth consecutive game with at least one sack … Head to Head Competition-OT#64-Andrew Gardner.

Virginia Tech … Recovered a fumble, posted seven tackles (6 solos) with a sack and a pressure while delivering two stops for losses … Cornerback C.J. Gaddis' 16-yard sack of QB Shawn Glennon caused a fumble that Adams recovered at the VT 31 for a 5-yard return with 6:01 left in the first half … He later sacked Glennon for a 5-yard loss on third-&-4 midway through the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-OT#74-Brandon Frye.

Maryland … In 56 plays, Adams delivered four tackles with two pressures and sacked QB Sam Hollenbach for a 10-yard loss on third-&-goal, forcing the Terps to settle for a 31-yard field goal with 7:18 remaining in the third quarter … Head to Head Competition-OT#70-Stephon Heyer.

North Carolina State … For the first time in his career, Adams registered ten tackles (5 solos) in a game, adding three pressures and a pass deflection, but saw his school record string of consecutive games with at least one sack snapped at eight contests … His fourth quarter pressure with 3:06 left to play resulted in Clemson linebacker Nick Watkins intercepting QB Daniel Evans' pass at the NC State 16 … Head to Head Competition-OT#78-James Newby.

South Carolina … Added five tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage … Also pressured QB Blake Mitchell on a first-&-10 pass that linebacker Nick Watkins picked off at the Clemson 42 … Adams again pressured Mitchell into throwing an interception that defensive tackle Jock McKissic returned 82 yards for a touchdown with 0:08 left before halftime … Head to Head Competition-OT#77-Jamon Meridith.

Kentucky (Music City Bowl) … Closed out his career with six tackles and two sacks for minus 14 yards … Sacked QB Andre' Woodson for a 7-yard loss on the game's opening drive. The play was originally ruled as a fumble, but it was reviewed and overturned … At the start of the second quarter, Adams again dropped Woodson for a 7-yard loss on a third-&-10 play, forcing the Wildcats to punt … Head to Head Competition-OT#79-Garry Williams.

2005 Season

Rejuvenated the tradition of the Bandit end position with an outstanding junior year; the term had been used in the 1980s, including Clemson's National Championship team of 1981 when Andy Headen starred at the position and even knocked down a pass downfield on the last play of Clemson's victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl … Adams ranked sixth on the team with 56 tackles (37 solos), but led the squad with 29 quarterback pressures and 9.5 sacks (11th on the school single-season record list) for minus 64 yards … Was third on the team with 15 stops for losses totaling 83 yards … Caused three fumbles while competing in 627 plays and 12 starts … His nine pass deflections set a school single-season record for defensive linemen and he became the first lineman since 1977 to lead the team in that category for a season … Named ACC Player of the Week vs. Maryland.


Texas A&M … Opened the season with two pressures and three solo tackles.

Maryland … Registered a season-high eight tackles (3 solos) with three pressures and 2.5 sacks for minus 17 yards.

Boston College … Followed with four stops and three pressures while also deflecting three passes … His three pass break-ups were the most ever in a game for a Clemson down lineman.

Wake Forest … Had a stop for a 6-yard loss of tailback Chris Barclay that caused a fumble, a pair of pressures and five tackles.

North Carolina State … Posted six tackles (5 solos) and three pressures.

Temple … Collected 2.5 sacks for minus 13 yards, a pressure and four tackles (3 solos).

Georgia Tech … Stopped Reggie Ball for a 6-yard loss on a bootleg, pressured the QB four times and was in on four hits.

Duke … Registered four tackles and three pressures.

Florida State … Had 1.5 sacks, 2.5 stops for minus 10 yards, three pressures and four tackles.

South Carolina … Delivered five solo tackles with a 4-yard sack, three stops for losses of 8 yards and three pressures.

Colorado (Champs Sports Bowl) … Finished the season with two sacks for minus 23 yards, two pressures and seven tackles (4 solos).

2004 Season

Recipient of the team's "12th Man Award" for his performance as a reserve defensive end … Recorded 35 tackles (22 solos) with five sacks for minus 20 yards, eight stops for losses of 26 yards and five pressures in 346 plays … Also deflected four passes and caused one fumble … Blocked two punts.

2004 Game Analysis

A strong contributor on special teams; he had two blocked punts, one vs. Utah State that resulted in a Clemson touchdown and one vs. South Carolina, becoming the first Tiger defensive end to record two blocked punts in one season, another example of his all-around athletic abilities … Had at least one tackle in every game, including a season-high six stops vs. Wake Forest … Had two sacks to go with the blocked punt vs. Utah State and was named Clemson's Special Teams Player-of-the-Week for that performance … .Had a 5-yard sack and four tackles vs. Georgia Tech … Added four tackles and a 1-yard sack in the Maryland contest … Posted a 5-yard sack and three tackles vs. Duke.

2003 Season

Played in twelve games, logging action in 172 plays … Recorded 15 tackles (11 solos) with a 1-yard sack and four stops for minus 8 yards … Credited with seven pressures and a pair of pass deflections … Had his best game vs. Florida State when he posted four tackles, including two for loss and a sack … Added four tackles and two for loss vs. Duke.

2002 Season

Redshirted as a freshman.

Injury Report

No injuries reported.

Agility Tests

Campus: 4.72 in the 40-yard dash … 350-pound bench press … Bench presses 225 pounds 20 times … 465-pound squat … 345-pound power clean … 380-pound hang clean … 36-inch vertical jump … 9'11" broad jump … 34 1/8-inch arm length … 9 7/8-inch hands … Left-handed … Wears contacts … 7/23 Wonderlic score.


Attended Fork Union in 2001, playing football for head coach John Shuman … Totaled 58 tackles, 22 sacks, and two interceptions in 10 games.

High School

Attended Cambridge (Greenwood, S.C.) Academy, playing football for former All-Southeastern Conference and South Carolina quarterback Steve Taneyhill … .Two-time All-State selection and All-Lakelands Class A Player of the Year as a senior … Rated a three-star prospect by Rivals100.com, even though his school played eight-man football … Made 14 sacks, leading his team to the 2000 state title … That year, he also had 57 catches for 1,680 yards and 20 touchdowns on offense and posted 78 solo tackles along with five interceptions as a defensive end … In three seasons at Cambridge, he had 158 career receptions for 4,394 yard and 65 touchdowns, 341 tackles, 10 interceptions, and 33 sacks.


Graduated with a degree in Sports Management in December 2006 … Born 6/08/83 … Resides in Greenwood, South Carolina.