- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

Tye Adams, listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds in the Navy football media guide, is one of the smallest starting defensive ends in the country.

But being small isn’t exactly a new phenomenon for Adams. He stopped playing football when he was in 10th grade partly because of his size.

“I was pretty small. In ninth grade I was 5-foot-8 and weighed 119 pounds,” Adams said. “Yeah, I was tiny. I worked on wrestling some my freshman and sophomore year but then after I grew quite a bit I came out for the team. My coach came and asked me to come out.”

Adams joined the team as a senior and was a quick learner. He helped Snake River High School to an undefeated record and an Idaho Class 3A state championship. Adams was named the state player of the year in his classification.

For a kid who grew up on the outskirts of Blackfoot, Idaho — a town of slightly more than 10,000 known as the “Potato Capital of the World” in the southeastern part of the state — playing college football never seemed like much of an option. He spent more time in high school hunting and fishing than dreaming of continuing his football career.

“My uncle asked if I was going to try and play [in college] and I said I didn’t know because I didn’t know how to get recruited,” Adams said. “He said I know a guy you can talk to.”

His uncle lived in Las Vegas and had become friends with Ken Niumatalolo, who was an assistant coach at UNLV from 1999 to 2001 before returning to Navy with head coach Paul Johnson.

“They [Niumatalolo and his uncle] actually went to the same church,” Adams said. “I got hooked up with Ken and he told me a lot of the ins and outs of recruiting. He said ‘While you are at it, why don’t you send me a tape?’ That was pretty much the end of the story.”

Adams spent his first two seasons in Annapolis buried on the depth chart at outside linebacker, a position he played in high school. Most of the action he saw was on special teams.

During the spring before his junior season, the defensive coaches decided a move to defensive end might help Adams. He earned the Admiral Mack Award, which is given to the most improved player during spring practice.

Adams earned more playing time last year as a reserve defensive end and moved into the starting lineup for his senior season.

“We finally have in the right place. He was always a guy that went 100 miles an hour and was very strong in his lower body,” Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. “Out in space as an outside linebacker wasn’t his best deal. We knew he was fast and we knew he was strong so when he put his hand down it was a perfect fit.

“He is a little light at that position — and when I say little he weighs about 215 pounds. But he doesn’t play like he weighs 215 pounds. He plays with great leverage and comes off the ball with low pads.”

Adams has 28 tackles this season — more than double his career total — and has 31/2 tackles for loss. He had a pair of sacks last week against Duke and narrowly missed out on a third despite lining up across from a right tackle listed at 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds.

“Technique is the only thing that will get me through it,” Adams said. “If you can play with good technique you can’t be beat unless the other guy plays with perfect technique. It is just trying to perfect the technique and willpower really, just never giving up.”

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