COLUMBIA — South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney won’t get any special treatment from his new position coach. Deke Adams said he’s continually been asked since becoming the Gamecocks defensive line coach how he’ll handle Clowney, the dominant, 6-foot-6 pass rusher who finished sixth in this past year’s Heisman Trophy voting.
“I think everyone else has thought about it way more than I have,” Adams said. “My personality won’t change. I’ll continue to be the person I am that got me to this point. I’ll continue to coach hard and continue to demand perfection from my guys.”
And that includes Clowney.
That doesn’t mean that Adams, who spent last season on North Carolina’s staff, isn’t much happier to have the junior standout on his sideline than playing against him. The Tar Heels and Gamecocks open next season at Williams-Brice Stadium on Aug. 31.
The quick hire – Adams was named on Jan. 21, a day after longtime South Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing took a similar position at Florida – hasn’t left Adams much one-on-one time with Clowney. The two talked last weekend as South Carolina hosted several college prospects they hope to sign next week.
Clowney seems poised for a special season in 2013. He closed last year by getting 4½ sacks on Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd in the Gamecocks 27-17 victory over their state rivals, then perhaps had the highlight of New Year’s Day with his helmet-popping hit on Michigan runner Vincent Smith.
Adams watched the game with his sons and all three jumped up after Clowney’s tackle.
“It was just an amazing hit,” Adams said. “I thought, ‘OK, they’re going to throw a flag.’”
But as the hit was replayed again and again at various speeds and camera angles, Adams marveled at the textbook hit Clowney made. “It was perfect,” he said.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier believes he and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward made a perfect selection in Adams as Lawing’s successor. Lawing was the Gamecocks coach who first watched film of Clowney as a South Pointe High sophomore with uncommon speed and power for someone so young.
Spurrier said he didn’t think the team would miss Lawing, who spent the past seven seasons on South Carolina, with Adams on board.
“He’s sort of my kind of coach, good family man, wonderful personality. I think our players are really going to enjoy playing for him,” Spurrier said.
Adams understands it’s now his responsibility to help Clowney live up to projections that have him listed as the top player in the 2014 NFL Draft. The best way for Clowney to achieve all he can, Adams believes, is to work each on getting better. That ability and work ethic will come through on the field if it’s evident in practice, said Adams, who’s confident he’ll work well with Clowney.
“Oh yeah, I think we’ll have a great relationship. You can hear in his voice he knows he can be so much better than he is right now,” Adams said. “That’s my goal.”