Gaines Adams: Just the Beginning

Simply put, former Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams defines the term game-breaker.

As the 2006 ACC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-American, Adams was reunited with one of his former teammates, Charles Bennett, when he was selected as the first defensive player in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

When he left Clemson, Adams did so tied with the great Michael Dean Perry for the school record for career sacks. He currently sits second on the Bucs depth chart at right defensive end behind Kevin Carter, a 13-year veteran who has made two trips to the Pro Bowl, making him a great person to learn the position from.

But if Adams' potential is any indication, he could develop into one of the top ends in the NFL very soon.

He has one of the top defensive minds in pro football to learn from in defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and plays for a franchise in Tampa Bay that in recent history, has developed some of the best defenses in the game. Adams' learning curve might be steep as an NFL rookie but then again, that's the case for all newcomers to the league but he gets more and more acclimated to playing in the league each week.

By the time his rookie season is over, he will look like a completely different player.

CUTigers caught up with him by phone from Tampa and here's what he had to say about Clemson, life in the NFL and other assorted subjects:

Overall, how do you look back on your time at Clemson?
Adams: It was a great experience there. Going to school there and playing football there was great. I enjoyed every moment there and it was a great experience.

Discuss the impact that Coach Bowden had on you, both on and off the field.
Adams: Coach Bowden, as a person, looked after me like I was his son. He was a great coach and did everything that he needed to do from his standpoint for me to be successful. I have to give it up to him for everything he did for me. He is a big reason why I'm where I'm at today.

Did you have any idea before the draft that Tampa Bay was where you would end up going?
Adams: Going into the draft, I didn't worry about which team I would go to because I had no control over that. The only thing I had control over was just going to combine and working hard to put myself into the best situation possible. I didn't have any clue which team I would go to. It was great just to go to the combine and to be around so many other top guys.

"Coach Bowden, as a person, looked after me like I was his son. He was a great coach and did everything that he needed to do from his standpoint for me to be successful."
You've always been labeled a game-breaker. How much pride do you take in that tag?
Adams: I take a lot of pride in how I play. As far as me trying to go out and be a gamebreaker, I just go out, play ball and try to make plays.

What's the biggest thing you've learned so far in the NFL?
Adams: I learned that as a defensive lineman, you can't come out of the gate and think that you're automatically going to be successful. You have to get out of that college mode and get adjusted to a whole new life in the NFL. That was a big change for me to get used to when I first came here. The biggest thing that I've learned that your first move for rushing the passer probably isn't going to work. You have to go to your second and third move for that to work. You have to be able to adjust to situations here if something doesn't work and I've learned how to do that.

When you came to the Bucs, you were reunited with a former teammate, Charles Bennett. Talk about your relationship with him.
Adams: We're very close. We were roommates while we were at school and we're still very close today. We see each other every day and it's crazy that when we were in college, we always talked about being able to go to the same team. Fortunately, that happened. It's just another extended friendship that I have.

What's it like playing for such an intense coach like Jon Gruden?
Adams: In this game, you need a coach like Coach Gruden. He brings a lot to the table. He's very enthusiastic and gets the job done. You need a coach like that on your side that is going to look after you, push you and help make you the special player you know you can be.

We understand both Clemson games you went to this year were both wins. Which games were those and how many more games do you plan to attend this year?
Adams: I went to the Florida State game and also to the Wake Forest. Those were two great games and they did a great job of winning both games. It looks like I'm a good luck charm this year since both games I've been two have been wins.

How much did playing in those heated rivalry games against South Carolina mean to a native South Carolinian like yourself?
Adams: You really can't explain it. You can't put that rivalry into words because you have guys you grew up with and guys from the same hometown playing on opposite sides. You just want to go out and outperform those guys because if you do, when you go home, you get to brag a little bit. I would say that rivalry is something you just can't put into words.

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