During last night's Belk Bowl, NC State'sN David Amerson set the ACC record for interceptions in a season with 12—then promptly broke it again with his 13th at the end of the game.
His two picks helped him break the previous record of 11 held by UNC's Dre Bly, making it an extra sweet milestone given he wrested the record from the hands of a Tar Heel.
His 13 interceptions this year helped State lead the nation in aerial takeaways as a team. But Amerson's number alone was better than 71 other teams in the FBS and tied him with an additional 14 teams sitting at 13 picks on the year (as of 12/24/11). Which means only 34 teams in the country had more interceptions than did Amerson on his own.
Just a sophomore, now the question for NC State fans becomes "How long can Tom O'Brien keep him in a Wolfpack uniform?" He's not a shutdown corner in the mold of a Darrelle Revis (even though a collection of NC State fans have borrowed Revis' "Revis Island" moniker) but he's a perfect fit for Archer's zone scheme where he can sit in coverage to read a quarterback's eyes.
At 6'3" and 194 lbs, he's got the size to combat the taller receivers that have populated the pro ranks. The question is, does he have the strength and speed to stay with next-level receivers like Calvin Johnson?
My neophyte football knowledge led me to believe he would be better suited as a free safety in the pros where he can thrive in a cover two scheme, eyes in the backfield, letting the action come to him where he can do what he's done this year—out-battling opposing receivers (and sometimes his own teammates) for the ball. But when posing the question to InTheBleachers.net's Michael Felder (a former college DB himself), he had doubts about his ability to transition to safety given his lack of physicality:
"@RnR_NCSU honestly he's not physical enough for my liking, out of a 6'2" guy. He's all vision & ball skills which isn't a negative at all."
Despite his propensity to shy from contact, Felder thinks he could play himself into the back-half of the first round with another solid year. With that in mind, I'm inclined to agree with podcast mate and PackPride.com contributor Austin Johnson had this to say last night on Twitter:
"David Amerson ladies and gentlemen. He'll be here for another year, and not any longer."
Yep. With another offseason to get stronger, faster and more acclimated to football at the FBS level (!!!), he could follow this remarkable year with another, and if you're a junior discussed as a potential first-rounder, I think you have to go. Short of breaking his own record of 13 (surely teams will stop throwing to his side of the field at some point), he probably wouldn't be able to improve his draft stock much more by staying a fourth season.
Enjoy him while he's at NC State next year.
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