Adams Adjusts Easily To Defensive End Spot

He got the word in June, so lining up at defensive end on the opening day of preseason was not news to Nelson Adams. Or even new for that matter. “I played end in high school, so I’m used to it.”

Now Bulldog fans, who came out of 2013 impressed with Adams for his work at defensive tackle, will have to get used to watching #94 operating out on one end of the action. Or will they? Adams leaves some opening to the question based on how Mississippi State’s defensive staff is mixing, matching, and even experimenting with players this preseason.

What is certain is wherever they put Adams, he is comfortable. And confident.

“It’s kind of the same. It’s a lot of different things, but at the same time you just have to play your keys and know what is going on.”

This position switch says as much about Coach David Turner’s appreciation for what Adams can do, as for the quantity of quality linemen stockpiled for the 2014 season. Turner and coordinator Geoff Collins want ways of getting all their best players involved and not over-working any starters. Particularly not with the proliferation of up-tempo offenses Mississippi State will see this season.

Besides, rotations at the two tackle positions are taking shape nicely. Turner wants a fourth defensive end to go with Preston Smith, Ryan Brown, and A.J. Jefferson. He figures now Adams will fit that need.

”The beginning of camp, when they told me they were just going to try and see how it was,” Adams said. “I’ve been playing end the whole camp. It’s been going pretty well actually.”

As it should. Adams’ high school played a four-man base front just as does the Dog defense so there was a familiar foundation in place. Besides, in State’s systems tackles can find themselves operating almost as an extra end so much of his 2013 experience still applies.

“It was just a personnel move, they thought it would be good for the defense and they were going to try and see how it went. It wasn’t a big adjustment, you know you’re just basically playing the shades as you would a three (technique).” So far, so good. But there one wrinkle Adams is, shall we say, trying to get up to speed with?

“It’s a lot of running!” he said. Right, because typically tackles aren’t assigned the same range of territory to cover as an end. The price of moving outside means farther to haul his 300 pounds in pursuit. “But you get used to it. Just setting the edge, rushing more off the edge, it’s more running than playing d-tackle.”

An ironic twist is how Adams will move outside while one of his fellow young tackles desperately desires assignment to end. Or at least that is what Chris Jones claims to everyone within earshot. Adams slightly deflates the debate though.

”We talk about it sometimes, he doesn’t really care,” reports Adams. Jones even offers Adams helpful hints on how things work out there, particularly pass-rushing off that edge. Adams says his most frequent opponent in drills has been another young lineman, offensive tackle Justin Senior, and the competition has benefited both.

“Justin is doing real well now. We both are.”

Again, Adams is not surprised to be doing well. Beyond having a good athlete’s natural confidence, he has played the game for-real with snaps in all 13 games last season. Once he’s banged helmets with the best in the land and shown he belongs on a SEC field, everything else can be taken in stride.

”It helped me out a lot with experience, I kind of know what to expect going into the season where last year I didn’t. So it’s helped me out a lot.”

In turn, Adams helps the Bulldog defensive front add further flexibility. Which is why sometime, some game, some matchup this fall, don’t be at all surprised when #94 returns to the interior…and when cohorts put a hand on the ground in unexpected positions too.

“We all can play anywhere on d-line, which makes us better as a group. You see Preston playing nose sometimes in a three-man front, you see me playing end. I might play d-tackle one day. We all play everything. It keeps you guessing. It does keep the offense guessing, because our offense never knows where we’re going to line up day to day.”

Just the same as Adams won’t find out where he is to line up game to game, month to month, even season to season any more. Meaning, he doesn’t care if this is his full and final placement.

“We don’t know yet, it might be permanent. I’m just doing the best for us.”


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