Joe Paterno and his Nittany Lions’ staff, particularly defensive line coach Larry Johnson, are adamant about keeping starting defensive tackle Anthony Adams at his playing weight of 300 pounds or less.
Do not think for a minute that Adams is not fully aware of this, because if he was in the dark about his weight problem, Paterno surely let him know in practice by calling him “Fatty.” At times it seems as if the Detroit, Mich., native is lining up next to Jenny Craig and Richard Simmons rather than linemen Jimmy Kennedy and Bob Jones.
“Recently I have been around 302-303 [pounds],” Adams said. “I know [the coaches] want me at 300 or less. So last week, being the joker that I am, I smeared chocolate all over my face and in my hair and kept candy-bar wrappers on my lap so when Coach Johnson walked into the film session he would see me all messed up with candy all over me.”
Adams is the Nittany Lions team comedian and practical joker, and throughout the past few weeks his upbeat attitude has been sorely needed. After a trouncing at the hands of No.1 Miami, and the cancellation of a game as a result of the tragedies in New York and Washington, D.C., Adams has been the heart and soul of the team.
He is part of a defensive line that is one of the nation’s best and closest. Jones, Kennedy and Michael Haynes complete the foursome, with Adams acting as the off-field ringleader. And through its closeness, this group has come up with some interesting ways of describing each other.
“We are really close, and we make fun of each other at any chance we get,” Adams said. “We call Bob (Jones) ‘Rogaine,’ because he is losing his hair. We always make fun of how big Jim’s feet are, and they all make fun of me because I am so short and heavy.”
While everything is equal inside of the foursome, most critics tend to single out Kennedy when they examine the Penn State defensive unit. The Yonkers, N.Y., native weighs in at 330 pounds and stands tall at 6-foot-5. Needless to say, he is a presence on the line.
His counterpart, Adams, is his polar opposite. Adams is built like a bowling ball, standing at only 6-foot and tipping the scales at anywhere between 300 and 305 pounds.
However, despite the differences between the two linemen, there is still a bond that links the PSU teammates. For instance, the larger Kennedy describes Adams as “Mini-Me.”
But for a little replica of Kennedy, Adams has pulled his weight on the field. Since he stepped in as a full-time starter for PSU, Adams has shouldered some of Kennedy’s load. By racking up 46 tackles and one sack a year ago, Adams has put the attention back on the line, and not just on Kennedy. The double and triple teams on Kennedy have disappeared, and the twosome was able to combine on 17 tackles for losses, seven sacks and two fumble recoveries last season.
“We really know each other well,” Adams said, “We talk to each other during the week and are able to visualize what will happen on Saturdays.”
In 1999, Adams’ redshirt-freshman season, he did not see much action on game days, but during the week his role as team clown was apparent. During the Lions’ trip to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl against Texas A&M, the players went out and ran into some members of the Aggies. They were at a local spot when they heard of a dance contest.
“We were all out, and I knew I had to do [the contest], because this was the seniors’ last night out with the team,” Adams said. “Lavar (Arrington) was pushing me to enter, so I did. He and everyone else were shouting out dances for me to do. It actually came down to me and one of the guys from Texas A&M, and of course I won.”
“Spices,” as he is known to friends and teammates, has been a breath of fresh air to the Penn State program since he stepped into Happy Valley in 1998. His accolades from a starting defensive tackle to dressing up as Santa Claus during the team’s Christmas party are just a continuation of what he began doing during high school. As the main ingredient in the success of Martin Luther King High School, it was in the Motor City that Adams was labeled Spices.
“There were two other Anthonys on the team,” Adams said. “We needed to come up with a name to call me other than Anthony. In high school I played on the offensive line, and whenever there was a play in which I pulled, the running back would always go for a big gain, so the guys starting calling me Spices because I was the main ingredient in making the play work.”
Whether it be Candy Man, Fatty, Mini-Me or Spices, Anthony Adams has established himself as a name in the Penn State locker room and on the buffet line. If Adams can keep his weight down this season, the joke will be on the opponents.