'Too Short' Keith Adams looks to make Georgia Tech pay

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON, SC -- Somewhere behind Clemson linebacker Keith Adams' gap-toothed smile that spreads from ear to ear is a monster.

Like some Jeckyl and Hyde dressed up in orange, Adams blushes when he hears what he did on the football field.

It adds to the legend when the smile lights up at the mention of the destruction: four sacks in a game, six tackles for loss. Against Duke on Saturday, Adams added to his growing legend.

He is a semi-finalist for the Football News National Defensive Player of the Year. He's already tied the Atlantic Coast Conference record for 27 tackles for loss let by William "The Refrigerator" Perry in 1984 and Rob Bodine in 1991. And he's just a sophomore.

Adams is on a tear and Georgia Tech should probably be worried. Adams doesn't smile when he talks about the Yellow Jackets.

"The called me too short," he said. Adams went to high school near Atlanta and had all the credentials he needed to play major college football. He played in the Georgia-Florida All-Star game at linebacker. He rushed for 2,200 yards in high school. He had everything but a tall frame, which Georgia Tech pointed out to him, if he hadn't already noticed.

Keith Adams is short, relatively speaking. He's 5-11. Is he too short? Not by a long shot.

Adams is a bowling ball in the offensive backfield, disrupting plays and generally creating havoc.

"Reggie Herring and his staff have put him in a position to make plays," said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden.

It was Herring that gave Adams his nickname Termite. "I kinda like that," said Adams. "It's kinda what I like to do - get inside the offense and cause problems."

There will be plenty riding on Adams' short but solid 220-pound frame this Saturday against Georgia Tech.

Not only does he have a few things to prove to Tech, but if Clemson is going to slow down Tech's offense, Adams will have plenty to do with it.

"Keith Adams used to be a 'Watch me, I can show you how to do it better than I can tell you how to do it' type player," said safety Robert Carswell. "Now he's 'Watch me - I can show you how to do it and I'm going to pull you with me'."

It does seem that how Keith Adams goes, so goes the rest of the defense. And Clemson could sure use Adams in the Georgia Tech backfield early and often.

"Whether we make a big play on offense or defense, it excites the whole team," said Bowden. "Keith Adams has been making most of the big plays. And the game of football is played with emotion and intensity. Keith has been the guy most of the season."

He'll have to be the guy Saturday as well. Tech leads the league in total offense, leading second place Florida State by nearly 80 yards a game. The Yellow Jackets also lead the league in rushing.

"Anybody can incite the team," said Adams. "Dextra Polite did it two weeks ago, Terry Jolly did it against Duke. We know we have playmakers all around the team. We know that any person can incite the team at any given time."

Leave it to Tech to incite Adams. "I'll always be up for this game," he said.

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