Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis isn't quite sure what happened to Adrian Amos . Someone must have swiped his puny, bony body for a taller, bulkier lookalike. Or maybe the doctors started feeding him some magical growth hormone.
In any case, this certainly isn't the same kid who came into school as a freshman standing at 5-feet-3 and weighing less than 140 pounds.
"He's up to 6-feet and 190 pounds," Davis said, shaking his head. "Unbelievable."
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Thanks to a Shaq-like growth spurt, Amos has the size to not only play varsity sports but dominate them. He's been a starting cornerback for two straight seasons - after one year on junior varsity -- and last year earned All-County honors. Now, heading into his final season, he's projected to be a Division I defensive back.
Amazing what 9 inches and 50 pounds will do for you.
"Everyone always thought I was going to be a short, little guy all my life," Amos said. "But now that I'm taller and gained some weight they're talking like I can be a college safety. That's pretty cool."
It's also pretty cool what he can do to opposing receivers. Amos didn't get beat deep once this year. More often than not he rendered the opposition's top receiver meaningless.
"He's a big, physical corner and there's not many of those," Davis said. "He's got great ball skills, he's fast and he will absolutely come up and wallop you in the run game."
It's not often that cornerbacks are commended for their tackling. But perhaps one of Calvert Hall's most memorable plays last year came on an Amos hit.
In the Cardinals' shocking upset over Gilman, it was Amos' forced fumble that swung the momentum to Calvert Hall.
Early in the game, Gilman's star athlete, Cyrus Jones, came out of the backfield on a wheel route. He came open, caught the pass and high-tailed it for the end zone. Amos streaked from the opposite side of the field, determined to keep him from scoring.
On paper, there's no way Amos should have caught him. Jones runs a 4.3 40-yard dash and Amos can crack 4.6 on a good day. But on the field, Amos can keep up with seemingly any receiver.
This time, he caught Jones. Amos put his helmet on the ball, forced a fumble and Calvert Hall recovered. It led to a touchdown drive in a game the Cardinals won 21-12.
"The kid Jones was breaking away for a touchdown then all of a sudden he's stopped and we get all the momentum," Davis said. "That's the kind of plays that don't always show up on the stat sheet but are just huge."
Based purely on the stat sheet, Amos had a down year in 2009. After recording a team-high six interceptions in 2008, expectations soared. He responded with just a single pick last season.
But a keen observer will notice teams rarely threw in Amos' direction. When quarterbacks did look to his side, the receivers weren't open. Better yet, he ranked among the team leaders in tackles and forced three fumbles, something he didn't do in 2008.
"I wasn't really concerned about the picks," Amos said. "I helped the team a lot more in the run game and I was physical at the line of scrimmage. I locked down my side of the field."
"He didn't statistically have a great year, but the film doesn't lie," the coach said. "He had a better year in 2009 [then 2008]. He created turnovers and he absolutely punished kids."
Creating turnovers is a point of pride for Amos. Amos said his favorite player growing up was Deion Sanders, who ranks 22nd on the NFL's all-time list with 53 interceptions. He liked how the Dallas Hall of Fame cornerback simply made things happen on the field.
"I want to have a game like Deon's," Amos said. "I want to be a playmaker."
Amos is most definitely a playmaker, but he might not be headed to Florida State like Sanders. The problem is Amos doesn't have Neon Deion's lightning-fast 40 time.
That doesn't mean Amos isn't a primetime (pun intended) corner, but Division I college recruiters usually have a bar set for their recruits, regardless of game film. If a cornerback isn't a certain height or can't run a certain 40 time, they'll find someone who meets their standards.
Amos has the size and the strength -- he benched 185 pounds 15 times, which is above average for a corner -- but the 4.6 40 could hurt him.
"I do have to get a little faster, but in the game I can cover 4.4 guys one-on-one," said Amos, who admitted his best shot at big-time college football may be at safety, where speed isn't as important. "I have the game speed to play Division I college football."
There's little doubt in Davis' mind. He's seen Amos compete - and beat - numerous Division I-bound players, starting with Gilman's Cyrus Jones.
"I think he's a I-A player," Davis said. "If he's not, someone's made a mistake."