FEATURE: Competing to Be the Best
Oct. 18, 2013
Robinson is from suburban Detroit. Amos is from Baltimore. Robinson plays on offense. Amos plays on defense. Robinson wears No. 8. Amos wears No. 4.
In many ways, they are opposites. But they both share a common personality fiber that makes both two of the best players on the Penn State roster: Competitiveness.
Ironically, neither player even had Penn State on their radar mid-way through high school. But that changed for both when they set foot on the University Park campus for a visit.
Amos's path to Penn State is largely thanks to fellow teammate Donovan Smith, who provided an assist during the recruitment process before signing day in 2011.
"I had forgotten all about Penn State in the recruiting process, but very late in the process Coach Johnson called me one day because he was at Donovan Smith's house and Donovan had shown him my highlight tape. So I got an offer from here and I visited," Amos said. "I got up here, and I really liked it. My father loved it because this is where he would have gone if he had the chance. So I committed on signing day."
Robinson, who was recruited by linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden, did not see a future in Penn State Blue and White until he saw the campus during a spring visit and met some of the people.
"During my freshman and sophomore year of high school, I really didn't know too much about Penn State," Robinson said. "Once I came up for a few unofficial visits during the spring and to the spring game, my family and I fell in love with it."
The rest is history.
Amos and Robinson both signed letters of intent to play football and attend school at Penn State on Feb. 2, 2011. Coincidentally, they were both ranked 108th nationally at their position in the Rivals.com recruiting rankings.
They both made their collegiate debut in the season-opener in 2011 against Indiana State in Beaver Stadium. It was a day neither player will forget.
"I remember the first time I went on the field at Beaver Stadium, I couldn't breathe, really," Amos said. "Everything was moving so fast, and it was like a dream to play college football on the highest level. It was just an adrenaline rush. In some respects, you still feel that same feeling every time you go out there, but that first game was special."
For Robinson, he was called out onto the field for his first snap against the Sycamores, but a false start penalty sent him back to the sideline. He went back onto the field for a second play later in the game, and Robinson described the experience as unreal.
"It was just amazing to run out of the tunnel and be out there on the field with all of the fans," Robinson said.
What separates Amos and Robinson from other players is their undying will to win. They both want to win in everything, on and off the field. Simply put, they can't stand losing.
"The one thing I will say about myself is that I hate to lose," Amos said.
Growing up in a family with a group of cousins that competed in everything, Amos said he did anything to win. Whether it be a board game or pickup basketball in the driveway, it didn't matter what game the group was playing, if they were keeping score, everyone did whatever it took to win.
"We can't even play a simple Family Feud game when all of the cousins are at my grandma's house because it gets so competitive," Amos said.
A quick survey around the Penn State locker room and anyone would tell you the same thing. Amos is the ultimate competitor.
"Anybody that you could ask will tell you that I hate to lose and that I am a sore loser," Amos said. "It's not good to be a sore loser, but I hate losing at everything. We can be playing a fun game, and when I lose the whole mood changes. I just hate to lose."
Robinson's personality is a bit more laid back than Amos's, but his fire to win is the same. The Michigan native said he got that competitiveness from his dad, Allen.
"Since I was four or five, we have pictures of me with a (Detroit) Lions jersey and kicking tee," Robinson said. "Whether it was just playing H.O.R.S.E. in the backyard, my dad always challenged me."
Amos and Robinson have been roommates before. In their apartment, the TV never changed off of the HDMI setting because any time they had spare minute they were battling on video games.
On the practice field, the story is the same because they each play a position that requires a constant competition to be the best. Wide receivers work to get open, and defensive backs work to shut down receivers.
"Some of the best athletes on the team are receivers and defensive backs, and you compete against each other on every play," Amos said. "The receivers are going to catch some. You are going to intercept some, but you have to compete every single play."
Sure, the duo loves to compete, but it brings out the best in one another. And that is the ultimate driving force for both to be the best that they can be for the betterment of the team.
"You never want to let him get the best of you because he thinks he is the best, and I think I am the best, so both of us just work that much harder to get better," Amos said. "But at the end of the day, we come back to each other and talk about how we can both get better because we want to see each other succeed on gameday."
"He's very good at the line of scrimmage, so working with him on press releases at the line of scrimmage every day makes you that much better for Saturday," Robinson said. "He's very good at a lot of little things, so it makes it a little easier when you are getting ready for Saturday because you've seen things in practice."
What makes Robinson so good?
"He does a lot of things well," Amos said. "His route running is good. And then every year, he is getting better physically. Physically, he is a lot faster than he was a year ago. He is a lot stronger. He has put on a lot of weight and a DB can't just bully him around the field. And then his jumping ability might be the best part about his game. He can go get the ball anywhere. They say his vertical is 38, but running, it is a lot higher than that. He can catch anything."
Robinson played cornerback and safety in high school, so he can relate to what makes Amos such a good player.
"Adrian is one of the strongest players on the team," said Robinson. "And for him to be at the cornerback or safety position is crazy. He is also probably the fastest on the team, as well. With the balance of strength and speed, you never know how he is going to play you. It's always a challenge to see what type of technique he is going to use on any down. It's like a chess match."
Four states separated Amos and Robinson during their high school days. The line of scrimmage separates the two every day at practice.
On Saturdays, the two standouts just want to win.
"It's my junior year and I know I only have a year and a half left at Penn State," Amos said. I just think about it a lot and ask myself if I am maximizing my abilities and my experiences here. I just want to be able to look back and say that I gave everything my all and reached my potential to help the team."
When their playing days are over, they will both look back on the Penn State experience and realize how special the opportunity to play football together really was. Amos and Robinson never met a competition they didn't like to win, but they would be the first to tell you that the other is one of his closest friends on the team. And that's what makes the duo so unique.
Individually, they want to win every drill or every play, but collectively they just want the team to succeed.
"When I am done at Penn State, a good memory I will have is being able to look back and remember that I played with a lot of my friends," Robinson said. "Playing with your close friends is something I have come to cherish. We are a close-knit group."