"Watching the team from before I came here to when I got here – it's a totally different team," Amerson said. "I don't know if its experience or coaching or whatever but it was a totally different team from my perspective."
After years of injury and personnel problems, the Pack secondary had finally gelled. Last season was a huge step forward for the whole defensive backfield, one helped along by Amerson's emergence as a starter in his true freshman season. Now the same secondary that was such a weakness in 2009 is expected to be strength.
"On the first team all three of those guys – Earl Wolff, Brandan Bishop and C.J. Wilson – I played with all of them last year so we are real tight. On the field it's like a bond – we are all friends and it's just like my brothers back there."
Amerson started nine games at boundary corner for the Pack in 2010 after earning rave reviews from the moment he stepped onto the practice field despite limited exposure to the system. As a big, physical cornerback, Amerson relied on his physical attributes to carry him while he learned the ropes of college football.
"Sometimes last year I didn't even know what to do," Amerson admitted. "I was just playing."
That's changed going into this year's camp, however. With a full season under his belt, the sophomore cornerback said this fall camp is a completely different experience so far.
"I feel a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable now that I know what to do. I'm not having to think about it – just do it. It's becoming like a second instinct," Amerson said. "When you aren't just relying on your athletic ability – you can just go off of instinct and knowing when to be in the right place at the right time. I know what's going on."
Amerson said he has few specific personal goals for fall camp but that he just wants to continue to improve along with the rest of the defense. Ultimately, his goal is to get to the point where the coaching staff feels comfortable matching him up one-on-one with any receiver.
"I just want to make the secondary better as a whole," Amerson said. "Personally I want to become a shutdown corner and help us be the top defense in the ACC. "
The backfield was dealt a blow over the summer when Jarvis Byrd suffered the second ACL tear of his college career – sidelining him for the entire 2011 season.
"That was a big loss. Jarvis is a good player – I didn't know how good he was until I saw him in the spring." Amerson said. "He seems to be handling it pretty well. He's keeping a positive attitude and he's with us working in the weight room. Hopefully he'll bring it to us next year."
Perhaps the biggest difference between 2009 and today is that Byrd's injury does not leave the Pack scrambling to fill a void. C.J. Wilson, who started all of 2011 at cornerback, is will simply shift back into the starting role for the injured Byrd. Amerson said that despite the setback, he expects defense to be the calling card for the Wolfpack this season.
"Personally, I want us be [known as a defensive team]," Amerson said. "That's the goal."