Doug Adams, '07
Originally published in May 2011
You may never see or hear him, but if you listen to South Carolina football games on the radio, then you have witnessed his work. Doug Adams, known on the airwaves simply as “Kershaw,” is the statistician in the booth with Gamecock broadcasters Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs. He has a knack for producing fascinating facts and figures, but the way he arrived where he is now is what deserves the applause.
As the youngest of four children, Doug didn’t exactly have it easy growing up in Kershaw, SC. His father, Ronnie, passed away when Doug was only 12, and soon after that he was raised by his sister and brother-in-law, Angie and Billy Hilton. He not only currently works on the Gamecock football broadcast team, but he is also a legal assistant for attorney James E. Smith Jr., P.A., in Columbia.
Creating an opportunity at Carolina
One's first impression of Doug may indicate that he is a very quiet and private person, but he is also someone who knows the value of hard work and supporting oneself. That drive led him to getting his future started with Carolina athletics during his final year at Andrew Jackson High School.
“My senior year of high school, my football coach at Andrew Jackson was talking to me about what I wanted to do, and I told him I wanted to do something with stats,” Doug says. “He went to USC for a coaches’ clinic and found out what I needed to do. He told me to draft letters to USC and Clemson. About a week later, I received a response from USC, so he set up a meeting with (then) USC Sports Information Director Kerry Tharp. I met with Kerry, and it kind of worked out, so I was able to work with football in the fall and baseball in the spring.”
Doug came to Carolina in the fall of 1999. He took some time off from school at one point, but as the only one of his siblings to attend college, Doug was determined to finish and would return. He earned his degree in 2007. The statistician work evolved into Doug's earning a position as a student sports information director (SID) working with the women’s tennis team at USC. He worked with almost every sport at USC in some fashion during his time in that position, and recounts great memories of working baseball games with the late Tom Price, the former Carolina sports information director.
Although he initially studied sports entertainment management, Doug eventually switched his major to sociology.
“I thought about maybe going back and becoming a teacher or a guidance counselor,” Doug says. “I like working with young adults and trying to guide young people. My favorite professor was (Mathieu) Deflem. I always thought Deflem was one of a kind. If you arrived after he did, you couldn’t come in because he locked the door. I thought he was a pretty good teacher. I actually heard he is teaching a class on Lady Gaga now.”
Doug worked in the sports information office all four years while in school and enjoyed getting to travel with teams and working with the coaches. Doug was looking for as much work as he could find outside of his sports information duties so he could pay his tuition and other bills. In 2001, co-worker Brian Binette told him that a statistician was needed for the pay-per-view and replay football broadcasts for television. Todd Ellis served as the play-by-play announcer for those broadcasts at the time, and the TV opportunity paid a little better than what a student gets paid in the SID office. This led to where he is now.
“After two years of working with Todd, he called me while I was at the beach on vacation,” Doug says. “He told me that he was going to be Carolina’s new play-by-play announcer for radio and asked me if I was interested in being his statistician. So I jumped at the chance, and I wanted to be loyal to him because he has basically taken care of me like a father. It was exciting to become a part of the Gamecock family on the broadcasts."
“The first Carolina-Clemson game I ever really watched or can remember anything about is the 1987 game," Doug recalls. "I remember where I was and who I was with. It’s hard to believe that 14 years later I would be working side-by-side with the USC quarterback of that game. That’s kind of cool.”
Doug’s preparation for each game usually begins on Sunday, at which time he will draft several pages of notes and get them to Todd in advance of the weekly call-in show with Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier.
“I try to do everything like a sports information director does for his notes,” Doug says. “But mine show a little bit more of the pros and cons of the team. I try to hit on stuff to show what the team is not doing and the negative impacts of that. I try to let Todd know those things so he can elaborate during the call-in show later in the week or get coach’s thoughts on them. Then I try to review again later in the week for anything else.”
During the game, Doug quickly comes up with the yardage on every play so the announcers can relay that information to the fans. He’ll also track trends with player’s stats through the course of the game as well as keep up with the number of plays and length of the drive. While it takes a lot of focus, Doug enjoys being part of the broadcast team.
“We’re small, but we’re like a family,” Doug says. “When I get to go back home, it’s like I’m a mini-celebrity. I’ve always enjoyed going back home and hearing from those folks that they heard me or about me on the broadcast.”
Doug is quick to point out how much he enjoys the genuine passion that Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs bring to the broadcasts. Doug compares being in the booth each week to sharing a “family get-together.” In speaking with Todd Ellis about Doug, there is a mutual appreciation.
“Doug is the nuts and bolts of the broadcast and has the ability to spot themes or trends in the game to expand the story lines we present to the listeners,” Todd says. “He makes everyone better. Doug is essential to me personally and professionally. I rely on his friendship and his loyalty, and I hope that I can help to guide him some in his life.”
When Doug is not on the road with the team, he sends text messages to the broadcast crew to pass along nuggets of information to which they may not have access. Having traveled to stadiums at North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Florida, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn, there are lots of great memories.
“I really enjoyed Florida this past year,” Doug says. “I like going to Georgia, too, especially when we come out with a ‘W’ (win). I don’t like going to Clemson, even though it’s the shortest trip. That’s too much orange. The comeback in Clemson in 2006 was my most memorable game. I remember Tommy telling me when we were down not to worry because we were going to come back and win. I was thrilled about that.”
Doug is quick to point out that he does take his job seriously and does not let his emotions get to him while he’s in the press box. He’ll do his celebrating after the game.
Outside the Booth
Doug’s day job keeps him busy enough that you might wonder how he has time to dig up all the facts and crunch the numbers for game day. He is currently employed as a legal assistant at James E. Smith Jr., P.A., in Columbia. Todd Ellis had been a partner at the firm a few years back, and that’s how the connection with the radio crew led him there.
“I was working in the SID office as a student assistant, and the paycheck just wasn’t big enough to cover all of my needs,” Doug says. “I understood they couldn’t pay me like a full-time person. I’ve been trying to support myself since high school to pay for my car insurance and anything else I wanted then. While in college, I always worked another job in addition to the sports information job. I did almost whatever I had to do to get by. For almost a year and a half, I drove back and forth from Kershaw to Columbia every day to work and attend classes."
"So I called Todd and told him I needed some help for the summer doing any kind of work," Doug continues. "He called me and told me they needed a runner at the law firm, and I was taking summer classes, so I came in and did that.”
By the time Doug graduated a year later, the main assistant at the firm was leaving to take another job, and since he already knew all the cases and daily operations, he was asked to stay on at the firm. Like any business, there was additional turnover, and Doug kept proving himself and moving up the ladder.
“It all worked out very well, because if I hadn’t come to USC, I wouldn’t have ever met up with Todd Ellis,” Doug says. “He led me here.”
It doesn’t take much prompting for Todd to return his admiration for the man behind the scenes.
“Doug is the perfect example to all young people who wonder what they can do when life hits them hard and they have limited resources,” Todd says. “He sacrifices and asks, ‘How can I help?’ He became good at something and has made himself indispensable.”