We all know Penn State's defense struggled mightily, especially against the pass, at times in 2013. The defense wasn't atrocious by any means, but exhibited none of the dominance we had grown accustomed to since 2004. For the defense to begin to build back to its smothering former self, Adrian Amos simply must be on the field as much as possible.
To state the obvious, Amos brings a bevy of talent to the field. He has been a steady presence since his true freshman year in 2011, and has continued to expand his role over time. Last season, we saw Amos transition seamlessly between safety and corner, basically lining up wherever he was needed most. He also has the athleticism to be a major factor in the return game (although I'm fine with letting one of the incoming speedsters take the role to reduce the risk of injury for Amos).
Not only does he have the ability to shut down top-level receivers, he also is tremendous against the run. Amos possesses excellent instincts and can easily close a gap when necessary. He is an effective tackler who can also deliver bone-jarring hits in the process. He's the kind of hitter that will disrupt an entire offense. If you pay close enough attention, you'll start to notice that after a couple big hits, many opposing receivers will think twice about crossing over the middle in Amos' territory. They suddenly develop "gator arms" and start hearing footsteps. He's the rare type of player who can alter an entire game plan.
As much as Penn State will depend on him on the field in 2014, they will also rely on the senior as the vocal leader of the defense. First off, Amos has continued to thrive during the most turbulent time in the program's history. Think about it for a moment- Joe Paterno was still head coach during Amos' freshman season and the team was a couple plays away from appearing in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. He's had five different head coaches (including two interim head coaches) and is a leader of a class who have witnessed more adversity than just about any other group of student-athletes in the history of the NCAA. He's formed a toughness that is contagious to his fellow teammates. He's someone the younger guys on the defense can look up to and know that any excuses, slacking or general tomfoolery is simply unacceptable. He won't just lead by example- he'll go out of his way to make sure everyone around him is going above and beyond as well.
Amos will play a significant role in the success of the team this fall. Whether he's playing defense, special teams, running stadium steps at 5 a.m. or showing the ropes to the guys who will be playing beyond 2014- he simply cannot be replaced.