Penn State players to watch: Adrian Amos and Allen Robinson

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- They're likely the two guys who are going to make the most memorable plays, run the fastest, show up the most consistently on NFL scouts' prospect lists. All that kind of stuff

You should watch them today. Allen Robinson and Adrian Amos. The wide receiver and the defensive back. Amos likely will shadow Robinson a significant amount of the time in the Blue-White game, at least when he plays cornerback rather than safety.

In spring practice, in the winter and last summer, they've spent a lot of time together. Robinson and Amos are trying to learn how to be the best by forcing it out of each other.

"It's definitely a competition between me and Adrian," Robinson said.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien says watching Robinson and Amos in practice is exciting, but he qualifies it by saying the matchups between offensive guard John Urschel and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones and tight end Jesse James and defensive end Deion Barnes, for instance, also are worthy of praise. That's because O'Brien talks like a coach. Everyone must be loved and lauded, but Robinson and Amos aren't like everyone and not like anyone Penn State has had at their respective positions in some time.

Last fall, assistant coach John Butler classified Amos' speed and physicality as attributes present in SEC-caliber defensive backs. He finished with 45 tackles, 2.5 for loss and two interceptions. Penn State has had good defensive backs before but not many who have contributed so strongly as true sophomores, nor those who shuttle back and forth between corner and safety.

Robinson had one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in Penn State history last fall. He set the single-season record for receptions with 77 and came within 72 yards of the record for receiving yards.

This spring, he's noticeably stronger, and he's supposedly more adept at running routes. That's what Amos says. When he plays cornerback, he often faces Robinson. And when he's facing Robinson, he's not entirely sure what to expect.

"The way he runs his routes, he's very diverse in his routes," Amos said. "He keeps you guessing. Other receivers you kind of have tips on their routes. He's learned to keep the defensive back guessing."

Robinson said several members of the secondary have given him problems this spring. He smiled when he mentioned that Amos was, of course, one of them.

This winter, Robinson and Amos would participate in the standard drills that all receivers, defensive backs and quarterbacks did. Then, as Amos said, "when nobody was watching" the two of them would stay longer. They worked on timing, moves off the line of scrimmage and other important aspects they could improve one-on-one.

It's all part of their friendly competition. Back home as roommates, they challenge each other in video games. In the weight room, it extends to push-ups, pull-ups and core exercises.

They don't really keep score. They just like to think that whoever loses that day needs to work harder the next.

"It makes us hold each other to a higher standard," Amos said. "We're out there competing and we know if we consider ourselves two of the better players we have to perform at a higher level."

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Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com and Twitter @mdent05.


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