ACC: Aaron Smith

2012 top Atlantic Division assistants

December, 17, 2012
The head coaches get all the money and all the ink. Not today. Today Andrea Adelson and I are recognizing one assistant coach from each staff in the ACC for a job well done this year. The Atlantic Division is up first:

BOSTON COLLEGE – Wide receivers coach Aaron Smith. In his first season with the program, Smith helped junior Alex Amidon develop into one of the ACC’s best. Amidon’s 1,210 yards receiving at the end of the regular season ranked second in the ACC, just four yards behind DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson. The entire group, including Johnathan Coleman, Bobby Swigert and Spiffy Evans, had one of its more productive seasons.

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Chad Morris. There’s a reason he was on the short list for many head coaching jobs this offseason. Clemson enters the Chick-fil-A Bowl ranked sixth in the nation in scoring (42.33), ninth in total offense (518.3) and 13th in passing (319.6) -- all record numbers for the program. Clemson has scored at least 37 points in 10 of the 12 games this year, and quarterback Tajh Boyd showed measurable improvement and mobility in his second season as a starter.

FLORIDA STATE – Defensive ends coach D.J. Eliot. There’s no question he will be missed on FSU’s staff, as Eliot was hired as Mark Stoops’ defensive coordinator at Kentucky. FSU’s defensive line didn’t miss a beat despite season-ending injuries to two of the group’s top players, Brandon Jenkins and Tank Carradine. Bjoern Werner has 13 sacks this season, leading the ACC and ranking second nationally in total sacks. Carradine went from backup to first-team All-ACC. He has 11 sacks this season, second in the ACC and 14th nationally.

MARYLAND – Mike Locksley, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: No quarterbacks coach in the country had to deal with what Locksley did this year, as the Terps were down to their fifth-string quarterback -- a freshman linebacker in Shawn Petty. After injuries to every scholarship quarterback on the roster, Maryland still never quit and somehow managed to score 38 points on the road against North Carolina. Many wrote off Maryland before the season even began, when C.J. Brown tore his ACL. But the Terps hung in until the very end thanks to great coaching by Locksley.

NC STATE – Offensive coordinator Dana Bible. He was named interim coach for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, and has been a rock on the sideline for the often inconsistent Pack. He has been integral in the development of quarterback Mike Glennon, who finished first in the ACC in passing yards per game (304) and second in total offense (292 yards per game). Despite numerous injuries and shuffling on the offensive line, NC State’s passing game was always a threat.

WAKE FOREST – OLB coach Derrick Jackson. Not only was he instrumental in the development of the linebackers, he was also a key recruiter for the Deacs this year. Linebacker Justin Jackson, who led the team with 80 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and four sacks, also had two pass breakups, one blocked kick and a forced fumble, and was the star of the group. Zachary Allen, Kevis Jones and Steve Donatell also showed significant progress this year under Jackson.
Boston College receiver Alex Amidon is putting together a pretty impressive season.

His 114.7 receiving yards per game ranks No. 8 in the nation. In fact, he and DeAndre Hopkins are the only two receivers in the ACC averaging 100 yards a game.

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.

[+] EnlargeBoston College's Alex Amidon
Greg M. Cooper/US PRESSWIREBoston College's Alex Amidon has 41 catches for 688 yards and four touchdowns through six games.
"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."