STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- With both starting safeties nursing injuries, the question had to be asked: Can we expect to see Adrian Amos float between cornerback and safety?
Bill O'Brien cracked a smile before practice Tuesday, looked at the group of reporters gathered around him and didn't miss a beat.
"You can expect Amos to be in any position on defense, except for the defensive line," he said, pausing for a moment, to let that sink in. "Yep, you got it."
Safety, cornerback, some linebacker: Amos, apparently, can play it all. ESPN ranked him as a three-star prospect in the 2011 class but labeled him a sleeper.
Well, he seems to have awoken.
The 6-foot, 205-pound sophomore played in every game as a true freshman. And, in one short year, he's graduated from a situational player to one of the team's top defensive backs.
He flashed potential last season and is already living up to it, at least with the coaching staff. Last season, Amos started in one game -- against Iowa -- and helped hold the offense to 169 passing yards. He made two tackles and broke up a pass in the second half.
That game wasn't a mirage, it seems. It was a harbinger.
O'Brien's taken an untold number of questions about the secondary and the underclassmen. But he's mentioned Amos, a projected starting cornerback, at just about every opportunity.
"We're happy to have him on the team," O'Brien said last week. "He's one of our better players."
And the week before that: "Then we have a group of young players, guys that aren't seniors, that I think are really good football players that are also part of that leadership group. Billy Belton, Adrian Amos …"
Amos' athleticism didn't pop up overnight. He was Baltimore's Defensive Player of the Year in high school as a safety who recorded 78 tackles and four interceptions. UConn coach Randy Edsall wooed Amos, but the POY decommitted after the coach left for Maryland.
UConn's loss turned out to be a critical gain for the Nittany Lions.
"Adrian Amos is a guy that we can move all around," O'Brien said at an earlier teleconference. "He's a guy that can do a lot of different things."