The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday October 23rd

SportSaturday - Adams Enjoying Resurgence

The renaissance that the Clemson football program is enjoying this season has brought happiness to many people.

Death Valley is once again filled to the brim with orange-clad fans. Tiger apparel is hard to find in stores but easy to spot on the street.

In short, Clemson is once again a national title contender, and people are enjoying it.

It is hard to imagine, though, many people enjoying the success as much as Keith Adams.

Adams was a freshman when the Tigers endured a 3-8 (1-7 in the ACC) campaign in 1998, when the only time his team was mentioned among the nation's elite was when they played Florida State.

"Going through that season has helped us this year," Adams said. "It makes you hungry for every game, we appreciate every win. We were

1-7 in the ACC that year. As a result we don't take anything for granted."

Not only has Adams been around for the resurgence, he has been an integral part of it.

The outside linebacker leads the Clemson defense - the second-ranked unit in the nation - with 11.4 tackles per game, tallying a tackle every 4.7 plays. The Sporting News listed Adams as the top linebacker in the nation in its preseason publication.

"I just go out and play," Adams said. "I would like to be one of the best linebackers in the country, and it was an honor to be named the top linebacker. It is a motivation from the standpoint that I have something to live up to, and if the team plays well, then I play well."

The 2000 season isn't the first year that offenses have centered their blocking schemes around Adams. His sophomore year was stellar as well.

Adams became the first sophomore in Clemson history to earn All-American honors, leading the team in tackles with 186 and tackles for loss with 35.

The College Park, Ga., native was tabbed the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and finished second in the nation with 16 sacks.

Perhaps the reason Adams performed so well so early in his college career is that football has always been an important part of his life.

Adams' father played for the New England Patriots for 15 years and instilled a love of the gridiron in his son at an early age.

"My father tells the story that we used to watch games together when I was 2-years-old," Adams said. "When my father changed the channel off the football game I would start crying. When he changed it back to the game I would stop.

"I guess you could say football was in me at an early age."

If Adams' inherited the love of football from his father, he received his cat-like quickness that allows him to track down opponents from his mother, whom Adams describes as a former track star.

"People always talk about my size," the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Adams said. "But it is my speed and quickness that let me get to people."

Getting to people is what Adams does best, and he must continue to do that if the Tigers hope to capture the national championship.



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