Inside Carolina

Q&A with New UNC DL Coach Deke Adams

Deke Adams returns to UNC as defensive line coach four years after his first stint in Chapel Hill.

It’s not an everyday occurrence that a coach will leave a school and then return for the same position several years later. What prompted your decision to leave after the 2012 season and what brought you back?
“A couple of years, there was a situation that came about real quick and I got a call from Coach [Steve] Spurrier. Sometimes you do things that you think is best for your family and then it comes back that maybe I should have done this, maybe I shouldn’t. At that time I thought it was the best situation for me and my family, so we decided to move and go on to South Carolina. But at the end of the day, when I look back at things, I wish I would have done things a little bit differently because not long after we left, I told my wife that Chapel Hill was a great place. My wife loves it here. We had even talked about finding a place here and possibly retiring in this area. We talked about that maybe if we would have the opportunity to go back that we would do it in a heartbeat. I’m just pleased that Coach [Larry] Fedora gave me another opportunity to come back and be a part of his staff. Talking with Coach [Gene] Chizik and those guys, it was a great time getting to know those guys and then having the opportunity to come back here. I’m excited about it. My family’s really excited to be back and we look forward to being here a long time.”

What have you learned and how are you a different coach now than when you were here in 2012?
“The biggest thing is just understanding kids a little bit better. Being with Coach Spurrier, I did learn some things about dealing with kids a little bit differently in certain situations. And then year-in and year-out, you always learn things that will make you a better coach in the football aspect of it because I truly believe that when you stop learning in this game or anything else you might as well get out and do something else. One of the things that I try to do is I try to go and do a clinic with a NFL coach or a college coach every spring to try and better my craft along with trying to pick up some things here and there that can help us as a team. I think that’s what you should do as a coach. I’m excited about having the chance to do some things differently than how I’ve done them in the past, some different things technique-wise, and learning about these kids and what we can and what we can’t do.”

You’ve been able to coach some elite defensive linemen in recent years, whether it be Sylvester Williams and Kareem Martin at UNC or Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles at South Carolina. Does that experience give you a better perspective with regard to coaching to talent level and maximizing potential?
“It really hasn’t changed anything because those kids are just like all of the other kids. They all want to know, ‘how can you help me’ and ‘how can you make me better as a player?’ Jadeveon was the same way, and Sylvester and Kareem were the same way. They were all great kids… A lot of people looked at the media more and didn’t give Jadeveon the credit that he deserved for being a good kid. The media sometimes can portray him or other guys as something different. He was an unbelievable kid. Any time he stepped in between the lines, he became a different type of player. It was special to have a chance to coach all of those guys, so I’m looking forward to developing some more of those type kids here.”

The last time you were here, Vic Koenning and Dan Disch ran a couple different styles of defense than what Gene Chizik is running now. Does that change anything for you up front?
“I think technique is technique. If you’re a three-technique, you play the three-technique a certain way. If you play five-technique, you play the five-technique a certain way. Now, the scheme and what you’re trying to accomplish in the scheme can be a little different. So if you’re teaching a flat step one way, it might change a little bit basically because of what you’re trying to get accomplished within the defense. But when you just talk about technique, technique is technique. You want to be fundamentally sound in everything you do. That’s one thing we’re doing to work really hard on is becoming fundamentally sound so that when we’re stressed, the fundamentals can be where we hang our hat. We’ve learned some different things and we’ve picked up some different things, and we’re looking forward to having a chance with the kids here.”

Your relationship with Fedora dates back to Southern Miss. Did you have any prior relationships with other members of the defensive staff, and if so, did that alter the standard interview process before you were hired?
“There were really no previous relationships other than that I knew Coach [Gene] Chizik but I did not know him personally. I had never met John [Papuchis], so there was an interview process. I sat down with those guys on two different occasions and we talked run game and we talked pass game. I went through the process like a normal coach would do. And I really appreciated that because having the ties with Coach Fedora, you don’t want to be put in a situation where you’re in a room with guys and they had no say-so about who was in the room. Sometimes that could be a different situation. I respect Coach Fedora for the way he went about it and it makes it even better stepping into that room with those guys knowing that they’re excited about me being there as well.”

Given your history at UNC, does that make it a fairly seamless transition on the recruiting trail?
“Yeah, but I’ve been in different areas. I’ll be in the Winston-Salem area, the northwest corner of the state and I’ve recruited Atlanta for many years, so it will make it pretty easy because there are still guys in those areas from when I was here before. I’m excited to get on the road and to actually get with our kids now and really learn what our kids can do.”

So this is going to be a different recruiting area from your previous in 2012?
“Yes, I had the Raleigh area when I was here before.”

What are your initial thoughts on the current group of players you have in the defensive line room?
“In my first meeting, I went in there and it was a room full of kids and I was like, ‘okay, guys, all I want to talk to is the defensive line.’ And they all started laughing. And I was like, ‘wow.’ I’ve never been in a room where I’ve had 18 kids in the room. So that’s great. Obviously, Coach Fedora and Coach Chizik and those guys have done a great job developing depth. From an athletic standpoint, I’ve only seen them run and lift a couple of times at this point right now. I’m excited about getting into Blue Dawn and seeing them move around and seeing what we have because I have not seen that yet.”

Finally, I wanted to ask you about your son, Jordyn. As a football coach and the father of a prospect that has offers in multiple sports, how do you go about handling the process with him?
“There’s a fine line there, because at the end of the day, I’ve been his father a lot longer than I have been a coach to him, so I still have to be his father. It’s an interesting process and it’s a fun process with him, but sometimes I have to step back and be his dad over trying to be somebody that wants him to go to a certain place or anything. At the end of the day, I think that’s what he wants from me. He wants me to be his father, not a coach. That’s what I’m here for and I want the best for him. We’ll take this thing slow and make sure he understands it and when he makes a decision, he makes a decision.”


Deke Adams embraces Larry Fedora at UNC's 2016 Freak Show.

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