Desire For Degree, One Last Taste of Death Valley Leads Adams To Return

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - After consulting with everyone from his parents to head coach Tommy Bowden to teammate Tye Hill, Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams announced Saturday that he will bypass the NFL Draft in April and return to school for his senior season.

Adams, speaking to reporters in the press room at Littlejohn Coliseum two hours before the Tiger basketball team hosted No. 1 Duke, said after all the talk and long hours of consideration, his decision came down to one key issue.

"I want to get my degree," he said. "That, and get one more chance to play in Death Valley. That's the main thing."

Adams, whose stock soared as his play rapidly improved over the second half of the season, found himself having to deal with conflicting opinions as to how high he may be drafted.

While some NFL projections had him as a third or fourth round pick, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. listed Adams as the No. 17 overall pick in the first round. But conversations with his parents, high school coach Steve Tanneyhill, teammates - including Hill - and a meeting with Bowden all produced the same advice:

Stay in school.

And, after a few sleepless nights, Adams himself reached the same conclusion.

"My parents want what's best for me. They looked at a lot of information," Adams said. "I met with coach Bowden back on Thursday and he gave me a lot of good information...I came out of that meeting feeling like I would come back."

It was Kiper's opinion that Adams could go as high as 17th in the draft that apparently caused the most confusion for the junior sports management major.

"Kiper's a great guy, but never played football before," Adams said. Still, "He's a great guy and I respect him a lot. And I was looking at that, and it was like 'If Mel Kiper's got me here, I'm going there.'...I'm glad he's got me there. I hope he has me there next year, or higher."

Adams said the example of Hill also played a role in his decision.

Hill, who returned for his senior season in 2005, saw his status for the upcoming draft skyrocket. Adams is hoping for similar returns if he can continue to improve himself as the 2006 season approaches.

"I didn't want to make the wrong decision," Adams said. "If I had made the decision to leave, then went in the third or fourth round, I'd be selling myself short. I couldn't live with that.

"By me staying I think I made the right decision. I can graduate, and if I still fall in the third or fourth round I'll have my degree. I think that will go a long way...because football is not for long."

Adams return, along with that of linebacker Anthony Waters, should mean good things for a Clemson defense which was outstanding in the last month of the 2005 season.

With most of that unit back, plus the entire offensive line and a wealth of skill position players returning, Adams has high expectations for the 2006 Clemson football team.

"I think we can win the ACC championship," he said.

dams finished the 2005 season with 56 tackles, sixth on Clemson's defense that ranked 11th best in the nation in scoring defense. He had a team best 15 tackles for loss for 83 lost yards and a team best 9.5 sacks for 64 loss yards. He ranked fifth in the ACC in sacks for the season. Adams also led the Tigers in passes broken up with nine, the first Clemson defensive lineman to lead the team in that area in 28 years, and paced the club in quarterback pressures with a record 29.

Adams was especially effective in the last three games of the season when he had 17 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
He had a pair of sacks and seven tackles in the win over Colorado.
He was named the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his 2.5 sacks and eight tackles in the win over Maryland in the second week of the season.

Adams has 27 career tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks to go
with his 15 passes broken up and 41 quarterback pressures. He
started all 12 games in 2005 and came off the bench in 2003 and 2004.

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