When now-former Mississippi State defensive line coach Brian Baker left the Bulldogs in late January, he left big shoes to fill.
Baker was a highly-respected leader with a tremendous reputation and more than three decades of coaching experience. However Baker’s departure from the state of Mississippi gave Deke Adams the opportunity to return home.
Adams, MSU’s new defensive line coach, was hired only days after Baker’s departure. He’s a native of Meridian, so after spending the last seven years coaching outside the state at North Carolina, South Carolina and East Carolina, he quickly welcomed the chance to get back to the Magnolia State.
“It’s great,” Adams said this past week as he met with the media for the first time since getting hired at MSU. “It’s been phenomenal.”
Adams is quick to say his family ties were one of the biggest factors that led him to accept an opportunity to join Mississippi State’s coaching staff. Yet there was more to it than that. He has prior relationships with several current MSU coaches and additionally, Adams was proud to return to coaching in the Southeastern Conference.
It also didn’t hurt that the Bulldogs have a reputation of having strong defenses – especially defensive lines. Adams is now looking forward to making sure it stays that way.
He knows that won’t be easy though. The Mississippi State defensive front will go into 2019 without many of the key performers that led the Bulldogs to one of the nation’s stingiest defenses last season. Defensive end Montez Sweat and tackle Jeffery Simmons are gone. So too is end Gerri Green. That means Adams will need several Bulldogs to step up and become leaders with the former stars out of the MSU picture.
“You want to still be the best in the country and best in the conference regardless,” Adams said. “You’re going to work your behind off to do that. Now, it doesn’t change anything about what I do daily and what we do from a daily standpoint – the way we work or our drills. We still have to go to work. Just because the history states, ‘They’ve done this,’ doesn’t mean it’s going to happen just because you show up, so you have to show up and work every day.”
Maybe Adams’ biggest challenge will be developing the inside of the MSU line. There is very little experience there, but State does return veterans on the edges including Starkville native Kobe Jones and senior-to-be Chauncey Rivers. As for the tackle positions though, Adams knows there is work to be done.
“We will be tested inside early,” Adams said. “I think the only guy that really has significant playing experience inside is Lee Autry. We’ll have to replace those guys inside, but the (remaining) guys are working their behinds off and working hard.”
While Adams strives to get the most out of his players, he can do so knowing there is plenty of support all around him. There is, after all, no place like home. Adams is happy to take advantage of that now that he’s back in Mississippi.
“I’m an hour away from my mom and my family – three hours away from my wife’s family, so it’s been really good,” Adams said.