Two themes have been constant topics of conversation concerning Penn State’s defense throughout the offseason, and both were again discussed at Big Ten Media Days.
The first topic is a depth issue at the linebacker position. A spring shoulder injury to sophomore Ben Kline and Zayd Issah’s legal trouble along with the departure of Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges left the Nittany Lions talented but scary thin when it comes to the position.
The second talking point is where Adrian Amos will line up in 2013. Amos played cornerback during his first two seasons in blue and white but was often seen practicing at safety during spring drills.
Following the Blue-White game, defensive coordinator John Butler said he would enter summer practice as a starting safety, something that a June depth chart confirmed.
Is it possible that Bill O’Brien has found a link to solve a numbers issue with versatility?
The coach had an interesting response Wednesday when asked about depth on defense.
“Again, we’ve got to look at all the different players we have on defense as it relates to the linebacker position, what can a guy like Adrian Amos do?” said O’Brien. “Can he play safety? Can he play corner? Can he play linebacker? Stephen Obeng, can he come down and play some linebacker for us.”
O’Brien later clarified and expanded on the comment a bit more.
“Amos will be a safety for us but can he do some things down in the box?” said O’Brien. “We just kinda sit in there and talk about different scenarios.”
While it might be a bit surprising, O’Brien is not the first person to throw the idea out there. Malcolm Willis mentioned in the spring that he thought Amos could line up at linebacker if he wanted to.
The official Penn State roster lists Amos at 6-foot and 211 pounds. The 6-foot-3, 240 pound Glenn Carson would tower over him, but starting outside linebacker Mike Hull is listed at 6-foot, 226 pounds, only 15 pounds heavier than Amos.
Other linebackers on the roster expected to play a role in the defense are all bigger than Amos including 6-foot-1, 240 pound Nyeem Wartman, 6-foot-2, 227 pound Ben Kline, and 6-foot-2, 233 pound Gary Wooten. Incoming freshman Brandon Bell is not yet listed on the official roster but measures in at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds on his Rivals recruiting page.
Amos would no doubt be a bit undersized for the position and won’t be lining up there regularly, but given how he has been treated and talked about this spring, it will be fascinating to locate him in pre-snap alignments and see where he lines up once the season gets underway.