STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - After losing four starters to graduation following the 2011 season, Penn State coaches have had to make some position changes to a secondary that was seriously lacking in depth.
In the beginning of the spring, sophomore Adrian Amos was moved from cornerback to safety, and redshirt sophomore Curtis Drake, from West Catholic High, was moved from wide receiver/wildcat quarterback to cornerback.
Though Drake didn't play in Saturday's Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium with what head coach Bill O'Brien called a shin problem, he and Amos will be a part of one of the most inexperienced secondaries the Lions have had in some time.
And even with Drake's shift from one side of the ball to the other, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the Nittany Lions were still in search of depth in the secondary.
Last season, Amos played in all but one game, and had 13 total tackles with one interception and four pass breakups. Though it was only a scrimmage, the 6-foot safety also picked off one of junior Rob Bolden's passes in the third quarter, the second of the quarterback's three picks.
But when the 2012 season begins Sept. 1 against Ohio, he and redshirt junior Malcolm Willis are going to be in the starting lineup, replacing graduates at safety Drew Astorino and Nick Sukay.
The shift from corner to safety has been without flaw for Amos, he said. Safety was his more natural position, anyway.
"It's what he wanted to play, but this kid has it all," Morris said. "Trust me. He's going to make a whole lot of plays in 2012, this Amos."
If Drake starts, he and senior cornerback Stephon Morris will be replacing graduates Chaz Powell and D'Anton Lynn on the outside.
The 5-foot-11 Drake was involved in a scuffle with starting quarterback Matt McGloin before the team's loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl on Jan. 1. The fight forced McGloin to miss the game, and as a result Drake did not make the trip.
O'Brien handed Drake a clean slate coming into the coach's first season with the Lions, however, and one of the biggest aids in Drake's transition from the offense to the defense has been his fellow cornerback, Stephon Morris.
The veteran in the secondary saw action in 11 of the team's 13 games last season, starting two. As the eldest of the four, Morris needs to be the anchor of the defensive backs, he said, and make sure he gives Roof confidence that his secondary can make plays in his aggressive defense.