NC State cornerback David Amerson enters 2012 as one of the nation’s top defensive backs. Last year, he had a breakout season and led the nation with 13 interceptions -- the most by a player in the FBS since 1968. Amerson won't be at media days, so I spoke with him on Tuesday to get his take on the upcoming season. Here are the highlights of our conversation.
How difficult will it be to duplicate your success this fall considering what a record-setting season you had last year?
David Amerson: I think I have to still stay hungry. Everybody has big expectations for me, expecting me to do this and that, which I like, but I have high expectations for myself. I don’t think there’s any pressure added to me or anything like that. I just have to approach this season with the same mentality I had last season, that I’m starting all over again. It’s a whole new season, I can’t live off of last year’s success. I have to do it all over again and show people I’m consistent and I’m here for the long run.
How hard to you think that’s going to be to do, considering I would think offenses are going to wise up and stop throwing in your direction, right?
DA: Yeah, well, I just think I will have fewer opportunities to get interceptions this year, so I have to be that much better so that every time the ball does come my way -- whether it’s once a game or twice a game, whatever -- I’m going to make that play and be consistent.
What are your expectations for yourself and how much do you pay attention to the numbers?
DA: Numbers, not really. I try to take it a play at a time. Like I said, every time the ball comes my way, I want to make a play. I don’t want the receiver to catch it. I want to get the ball. I want the interception. I think in little steps like that, and eventually it all adds up at the end.
What was it like for you last year having such a breakout season?
DA: It was something I definitely worked hard for. I was preparing myself in the offseason last year. I came into the season hungry, trying to make a name for myself, trying to show everyone my ability I knew I had. I ain’t going to lie -- I didn’t expect all of it to happen that fast. But fortunately for me it did and it was a good experience and something I can build off of.
So what have you been working on this offseason to become a better player?
DA: I definitely have been trying to get bigger, faster, stronger. And trying to improve my technique, add more to my game. I didn’t play a lot of press coverage last year, and I know a lot of people have been questioning, can I even press? Can I even play press coverage? I want to expand my game in that area, show people I can do that.
What kind of a leader are you in the secondary and how much easier has it become because of your success last year?
DA: I think I’m more of I show people rather than telling people. I’m not a big vocal guy. I guess you can say I’m kind of quiet for the most part. I’m kind of goofy when I do talk. But for the most part, I just try to show people to lead by example. I think that’s the best way to lead and a lot of people follow in that term. A lot of people don’t like to hear rah rah, they want to see it done. It’s easy to say something, another thing to do something. I try to lead in that area, by example.
How did your teammates respond to your success last year?
DA: They definitely kept encouraging me on. They were great teammates and friends and helped me through the process. I think it also encouraged them to work hard, it encouraged them to try to do something like I did or be that amazing guy or make that amazing play and work that much harder. I think it had an overall positive outcome for the team.
How good do you think NC State’s secondary as a whole could be this year?
DA: I think we can be real good. It’s going to be my third year playing, and the rest of the starting secondary, it’s going to be their fourth year. We’ve got a lot of experience back there. Everyone is working hard and we understand that we’re probably going to be the strength of the defense this year, so we’re going to have to play like it. It encourages us to work harder and be that much faster, stronger and smarter.
Do you get tired of everybody talking about Florida State and Clemson? Because I think you guys might be pretty good this year.
DA: (He laughed). Those two programs are two great programs. They’ve got a lot of history, they’ve been powerhouses over the years, so the talk about them is deserved, but yeah, I think people are definitely sleeping on us. Hey, that’s fine, because when the season starts and we start winning games, that’s going to change.