Clemson is mourning the passing of former All-American Gaines Adams, who died of cardiac arrest on Sunday morning at the age of 26.
AdamsCoach Dabo Swinney was the wide receivers coach during Adams’ playing days.
“This is a sad day for Clemson Nation,” Swinney said in a prepared statement. “Gaines was not only a great player at Clemson, he was an outstanding young man.
“He was a great example of how you could progress through hard work. He played eight-man football in high school, then became a top-five pick. How many people have done that? I was an offensive assistant coach during his career, and we all took notice of his considerable skills. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
One of Adams’ most memorable plays was his 66-yard fumble return of a botched field goal attempt against Wake Forest in 2006, a play that changed the course of the game, and helped Clemson defeat the eventual ACC champion Demon Deacons, 27-17. That play was named one of the top four game-changing plays of 2006 by ESPN.
Over his career, Adams had 168 tackles, including 44.5 tackles for loss and 28 sacks. He played in 48 games, 26 as a starter and had 21 pass breakups, most ever by a Clemson defensive lineman, three fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles.
Adams received his undergraduate degree from Clemson in December 2006.
Adams had just finished his third season in the NFL. He played half of this past season with Tampa Bay, then was traded to Chicago. He had 13.5 sacks in his 47-game NFL career.
Former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, who was head coach during Adams’ entire career, also weighed in on the news.
“I was shocked and saddened to hear this news,” said Bowden in a prepared statement. “When I heard the news I thought it was his father because he has the same name. I just couldn’t believe it was Gaines.
“I will always remember the smile he had on his face and I will always remember his patience. To go from eight-man football, to prep school, then to redshirt, he waited his time, but proved it was worth the wait. Then he showed his patience when he came back for his senior year and could have gone pro after the 2005 season. This is a great loss and our prayers to out to his family.”