Andrew Dys

Layman a giant among gentlemen

The two players were tired and hungry. Northwestern High School football practice was over, it was pushing 7 o'clock at night. Adam Layman told the other player he was heading home to scarf down something to eat before tackling his homework.

The other player from Northwestern High School mentioned he might not have anything waiting at home to eat.

The guy went home with Adam, in Adam's 14-year-old car with the 140,000-plus miles on it, and both ate. He ate another time, too.

That's just the way Adam is.

It is the Adam Laymans among us, who don't care what that other kid looks like, or where the other kid lives, or what his momma and daddy do for a living, that make us better.

Adam's way is the only way his mother would have him. Lisa Lynch, Adam's mother, has the auto-immune disease Lupus. Adam looks out for his mom, too.

"He's been that way his whole life," his mother said. "I remember one time he was in the fourth grade, school called and said Adam was in a fight. Turns out, a bully was picking on a little kid, and Adam stepped in to stop it, and ended up getting punched in the face."

And that was before Adam was big. Now he is 6 feet 4 inches, 240 pounds, starting right guard on the Northwestern football team big. He was a scrawny, skinny kid for years until he filled out. Nowadays he is always among the biggest kids in any crowd. He said he is "by far" the biggest in the forensic science club at Northwestern.

"That's my favorite subject, forensic science," said Adam, an A student who won't decide after graduating in May if he will go to college, but where.

I asked Adam if anybody had ever called him or any of his buddies in that club a "nerd." Perception, a wrong one on my part, that the forensic club might be peopled by pimply kids with pocket protectors who play Dungeons and Dragons on the weekends. Adam said no, he hasn't taken any ribbing, and nobody else has either, at least in his earshot.

Somebody in the forensics club, or the football team, needs a ride home at night, they pile in the 14-year-old car with the big guy.

Some might know Adam as the largest coffee maker at the Caffino coffee drive-thru window at the corner of Herlong Avenue and Ebenezer Road. He's worked there since the day it opened almost two years ago, getting shifts whenever he could.

"Dependable, polite, prompt, team player," said Caffino manager Shirley Hosking.

After football season began, Adam continued to work Sundays. Adam's mother told him a couple weeks ago that he needed to stop working until the season was over, to make sure that he had time to juggle football and his schoolwork t hat includes Model United Nations and college-level psychology. Hosking said she has willingly kept open his job until football is over.

"That's a huge testimony to him, and he's just 18 years old," Hosking said.

Offensive guard might be the least glamorous position on the football field. You get dirty, you never get to touch the ball, and some guy big as a barn door spends the whole game waylaying you in the chin. You miss your block, the star quarterback gets flattened.

The player who lines up next to Adam, offensive tackle Stephen Powers, was walking by Monday as I talked with Adam at school. I asked Powers if Adam was a good teammate. Powers said more than that: He'd been friends with Adam since middle school.

"Adam will always help you," Powers said.