Much of the Arkansas State defense is composed of returning seasoned veterans, but there are a few key youngsters that have potential to have outbreak seasons this year. Look for D lineman Amos Draper to be one of those new impact players on the Red Wolf defense.
The redshirt sophomore from Tanner, Alabama is without question a standout athlete. He was named to the CollegeFootballNews.com Freshman All-America team a year ago. Coach Hugh Freeze compared him to the likes of an SEC lineman.
"He's as talented as some of the D lineman that were on our team in the SEC at Ole Miss. He's quick twitched, but he's still young, he's just got to decide he wants to be great every play," Freeze said.
Consistency seems to be the only question at hand when it comes to Draper's performance. Draper admitted it's something he's got to continue working on.
"I've just gotta work on my work ethic," Draper said. "There's small things that I do, like take a play off here an there, stuff like that."
Though he may still be growing into being the "great player" Freeze says he has potential to be, Draper got some good experience during his freshman year at Arkansas State.
As a freshman Draper played in every single game, starting in three of them. He recorded three sacks, tying him for 19th most in the Sun Belt Conference, and 7.0 tackles for loss, ranking among the top 25 players in the league. He also had two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Such impressive freshman stats set the bar high for the young lineman this year, but Freeze expects him to be a real difference maker on this Red Wolf defense if he so chooses to be.
"Amos I think is an extremely talented youngster, and if he ever decides he wants to be great he could be really, really good," Freeze said. "If he decides that, he's gonna be a special player."
Draper said he hears that a lot, and is up to the challenge of stepping into the potential role of greatness that his coaches see in him. As far as this week's home opener against Memphis, Draper said he feels prepared as an individual and for the D-Line as a whole.
"I think we're prepared real well. Coach Kiffin's been getting us right, and Coach Wommack's defense is incredible. I think we're real prepared for Memphis," Draper said.
Perhaps this weekend will be an outbreak performance for Amos Draper. Look for number 97 to make some big plays at ASU Stadium on Saturday night.