Lorenzo Ward was not expecting defensive line coach Brad Lawing to leave South Carolina’s coaching staff, but it didn’t take the Gamecocks long to find a replacement.
Lawing left Sunday to join the staff at SEC East rival Florida, and by Monday evening South Carolina was on the verge of hiring North Carolina defensive line coach Deke Adams.
South Carolina confirmed the hire around noon Tuesday.
Adams spent the 2012 season at North Carolina after following Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora from Southern Miss. Adams lettered at Southern Miss from 1991-1994.
The hiring of Adams came 24 hours after Lawing informed South Carolina of his decision to leave. Lawing only told Ward of his plans to interview with the Gators shortly before boarding a plane to fly to Gainesville on Sunday, Ward said.
“It was a surprise to a certain extent,” Ward said of Lawing’s departure. “I think Brad’s reason to leave here was way beyond football, and that’s between him and his family. I think there were a lot of other things going on beside football.”
Money was not the reason for the move and the two sides never engaged in a bidding war, Ward said. Lawing made $300,000 last season at South Carolina.
“People don’t know but Nick Saban called Brad all the time about coming to work for him at Alabama, but Brad never wavered. I think this was a lot deeper than that. I wish him and his family the best,” Ward said. “I don’t think money had anything to do with it at all.”
Lawing spent 17 seasons at South Carolina during two stints and was part of 106 victories at the school. The Gamecocks finished No. 11 in the country in total defense last year (315.5 yards per game allowed) and were fifth nationally with 45 sacks thanks in large part to the “rabbits” defensive line package that Ward credited Lawing with developing. The “rabbits” package employed four defensive ends rather than the traditional two ends and two tackles.
Lawing’s replacement would have to fit the personality of the existing coaching staff and team, Ward said.
“The players are not going to change; the system is not going to change,” Ward said. “You want to make sure there is camaraderie in your stuff. We don’t want somebody who is going to upset the apple cart. And, again, you want somebody who is going to teach good technique and fundamentals.”
Recruiting also would be a factor in the hire, Ward said. Lawing concentrated on the state of North Carolina for the Gamecocks. Lawing did not return a message left on his cell phone Monday.
Ward received “a ton of calls” about the opening, he said.
Ward said he did not believe the presence of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on the school’s campus would be much of a factor in the candidate pool or the hire, he said. Clowney is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft next season.
“If Clowney was a freshman and you were going to have him four years, somebody might say that, but knowing you’re going to have him one year unless something unfortunate happens, no I don’t think that’s going to affect people who would be interested in the job,” Ward said.
Deke Adams bio
From North Carolina's website; info is from prior to start of 2012 season
After serving three seasons as Larry Fedora's defensive line coach at Southern Miss, Deke Adams enters his first year as Carolina's defensive line coach in 2012.
Adams, a former Southern Miss letterman, was in charge of a front four that allowed just 112.6 rushing yards per game in 2011, good for second in Conference USA and 22nd in the country. The Golden Eagles ranked second in total defense and defensive end Cordarro Law was named first-team All-CUSA.
Southern Miss won the Conference USA championship over previously unbeaten Houston and then won its school-record 12th game of the year by beating Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl.
In 2010, the Golden Eagle defensive line continued to improve and show toughness in Adams' second year as they were among the toughest against the run and led CUSA in tackles for loss. Two of Adams' lineman, Anthony Gray and Law, also made up half of the 2010 All-Conference USA second team defensive squad on the line. Adams' also put one other player, John Henderson, on the honorable mention squad.
In his first year as a USM assistant coach, Adams inherited a young, but seasoned and talented group of players that progressively improved as the season continued. The defense finished the year No. 18 nationally in sacks and No. 24 nationally in tackles for loss. The year prior to his arrival, Southern Miss was No. 93 and No. 68, respectively, in those two defensive categories.
Adams came to Southern Miss after spending the previous year as linebackers coach and coordinator of player development at Louisiana-Monroe. Prior to his stint at ULM, he worked for two seasons at North Carolina A&T.
During his first season at North Carolina A&T, Adams stepped into the role of defensive coordinator two games into the season on a interim basis. Adams handled himself in a situation where he led a defense made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, then was given the job on a permanent basis following that first season. Adams coached the defensive line during his first year in 2006 and the linebackers in 2007.
Adams spent four years at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas before his stint at North Carolina A&T. In 2005, he served as Ouachita Baptist's defensive coordinator. He was also responsible for coaching the defensive line. His duties also included recruiting the Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas areas.
Adams started his coaching career in 1997 when he accepted a position as the defensive line coach at Jacksonville State.
After spending one season at Jacksonville State, Adams coached at Pearl River Community College where he performed a variety of duties. He first served as the linebackers coach and, a few months later, was named co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
In 2001, Adams became the defensive coordinator and continued his duties as recruiting coordinator. He worked at Pearl River until 2002 when he accepted the position at Ouachita Baptist.
Adams was a four-year member of the Southern Miss Dean's List during his time as a student-athlete and three-time letterwinner for the Golden Eagle "Nasty Bunch" defense at Southern Miss from 1991-94.
Duing his tenure, the Golden Eagles enjoyed a pair of winning seasons and Adams went out on a winning note with a 20-18 victory over LSU in his final game as a senior.
He is married to the former Alexis Hall, a member of the 1,000-point club and four-year letter winner for the Southern Miss women's basketball team from 1988-1991. The couple has two boys, Jaylen and Jordyn.