- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Boston College receiver Alex Amidon is putting together a pretty impressive season.
But what is even more impressive? His ability to keep going ... and going ... and going.
"I've never been around a wideout who plays as fast as he does," receivers coach Aaron Smith said in a recent telephone interview.
Here is the proof: Amidon misses only a handful of snaps every week. Smith says most receivers average about 40 snaps a game. But not Amidon. In one contest this year, Smith said Amidon played 75 snaps. In another, he ran a deep, 60-yard route that fell incomplete. Smith went to take him out of the game, but Amidon flashed the thumbs up.
"Most guys run that pattern and it’s incomplete, or even if they catch it, they look to the sideline to get tapped out," Smith said. "He hasn’t looked at me once to get tapped out. I've had to pull him out. That tells you what type of kid he is. At wideout, that doesn’t happen."
What has allowed Amidon to have Energizer Bunny-like qualities? Well, for one, Amidon is former track athlete, having taken up the sport when he moved from his native London to the United States when he was 9. So his experience running in both the sprints (200), intermediate distances (400) and the longer distances (800) has helped with his endurance. But so has his father, whose supervised workouts when Amidon was younger allowed him to push himself to the limit.
There is one workout in particular that helped shape Amidon. When he was in middle school, there was a hill nearby that was a a little more than a half mile long to the top. The incline was so steep, Amidon would throw up just about every time he finished. But he never once quit on his father, or that workout. In fact, Amidon has taken his hill workout with him to Boston College.
"After you’ve done it and you are lying on the ground, you feel a sense of accomplishment that you killed yourself to get better," Amidon recalled in a recent phone interview. "I was always excited to get a better time. I was training for the 800, and that was for long-distance training, an endurance thing so I would run up as fast as I could, and I wanted to go faster and faster."
He only started playing football his freshman year in high school at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, because surgery forced him out for the cross country season. He sat and watched football practice one day and asked if he could join the team. He played quarterback at first, but switched to receiver his junior year.
He had a good first season at receiver, but nobody was recruiting him. So Amidon took matters into his own hands.
"I sent my tape in to BC, and they asked me to come to their camp," Amidon said. "I had to push myself onto people, no one was coming up to me. I knew I had to go to camps and stuff. At the camp, they offered me a scholarship and I accepted."
One of the coaches working the camp? Smith, an assistant at Columbia at the time.
"If you looked at him and eye balled him you wouldn’t say, 'That’s an ACC receiver,'" Smith said. "But watching him work, he was good. You could tell he had a lot of potential."
That potential has been realized this season in the new fast-paced offense that offensive coordinator Doug Martin has installed. Smith says the receivers benefit more than any other player on offense under the scheme, because it allows them to play fast. That, of course, is a perfect match for Amidon.
The results back that up. Against Clemson earlier this year, Amidon had 193 yards receiving, the highest single-game total since Gerard Phelan had 226 yards against Miami on Nov. 23, 1984.
He already has three 100-yard receiving games this year and has been added to the Biletnikoff Award watch list. But you will never hear Amidon brag on himself. Smith sent him a text message congratulating him when he was added to the Biletnikoff list. Amidon replied with a brief, "Thanks."
"I wasn’t expecting these kind of numbers," Amidon said. "I think it has a lot to do with the system we’re in and the way Chase (Rettig) is playing. Coach Martin has really simplified the offense. It’s an awesome offense, and I'm just happy to be a part of it."
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4dJared Shanker and Andrea Adelson