STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- It’s Monday so you know what that means: the start of another Penn State countdown.
We’ll have a different countdown every week until spring practice starts to help time tick by a little faster. And, this week, we decided to take a look at the five players you should watch the closest this spring.
Up first is a defensive back who's trying to live up to big expectations …
No. 5 spring player to watch: DB Adrian Amos
2013 review: He was coming off a strong freshman campaign but moved from cornerback to safety out of necessity. He was widely regarded as the team's best defensive back, but he struggled at his new position -- as did his replacement, wideout-turned-cornerback Trevor Williams -- and the experiment was abandoned by midseason. Amos started every game, but it's clear he still didn't meet expectations. He finished with 50 tackles and just one interception and, while he fared much better at his old position of cornerback in the second half of the year, his struggles at safety overshadowed any successes.
Why spring is so important: Amos is undoubtedly a talented player, but he was not a great safety last season. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop believed Amos would "probably" still begin the spring at safety, but it's still no guarantee that's where he'll finish. Right now, he's a better cornerback -- he's the best corner on the team -- but this spring will help determine whether Amos can put together a solid season at safety. He appears to be needed there more because the position is such a liability.
Best-case scenario: Amos said he felt like a freshman all over again last season because he was basically learning a new position (safety). Well, this year, he returns to old form and has the best season out of any of the other defensive backs. Safety is no longer the weakness of this defense, and Amos leads the team in interceptions on his way to All-Big Ten honors. Talk of his NFL potential once again picks up around the defense's playmaker.
Worst-case scenario: Amos continues to struggle at safety and, instead of being a great cornerback, is forced to settle for being a mediocre safety. The secondary is once again a punching bag for opposing offenses, and Amos finds himself out of position on several big plays that draw the ire of fans. He's better than 2013, but his performance still leaves fans wondering "what-could-have-been" because of all the potential he showed as a freshman. At some point, he's moved back to cornerback -- but his confidence is shaken.