Notebook: Amos, Patterson And More

Wondering what has happened to Andre Amos? How about Nick Patterson? Curious as to the development of Eugene Clifford and it has been similar to that of Malcolm Jenkins as a freshman? These topics and more are covered in our latest notebook as the Buckeyes prepare for Youngstown State.

Ever since he suffered an undisclosed leg injury during spring practice, the status of sophomore cornerback Andre Amos has remained somewhat of a mystery.

Now as the 2007 season prepares to get underway for the Buckeyes, it turns out his position coach also remains unsure as to when Amos will return to the active roster.

"His status? I'm not sure," OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said. "I know he's been doing very, very well with his rehab. I know he's been pretty much ahead of schedule. The timetable I'm not sure. I'm hoping as soon as possible because he's a young man that we need."

After redshirting as a freshman, Amos played in 12 games last season both in the secondary and on special teams. After accumulating nine tackles – four solo – and his first career interception, the 6-1, 180-pound graduate of Middletown, Ohio, entered spring practice listed as the primary backup to junior Malcolm Jenkins and figured into the team's plans at the nickel back position.

But after landing on someone's foot after leaping to break up a pass during spring practice, Amos was headed to see a surgeon before he was headed back on the playing field.

"It was weird because I don't know what ligament strain or whatever he had – obviously he had surgery – but he had no swelling, and all his rehab has been ahead of schedule," Johnson said. "He really feels like he can go right now, obviously, but he still has to let the thing heal."

What is still holding him back, Johnson said, is the fact that Amos needs to give the ligaments in his knee time to heal. His absence has, in part, allowed redshirt freshman Chimdi Chekwa and true freshman Eugene Clifford to break into the team's two-deep for the season-opening contest against Youngstown State on Sept. 1.

Entering the spring, Chekwa was listed as the third-string corner behind Jenkins and Amos.

"He can play the ball in the air very well," Johnson said of Chekwa. "He's another guy that doesn't panic when it's in the air. With his top-end speed, when someone does get ahead of him or if he's running down the field he's able to keep up a lot easier because he can run."

Amos is not the only OSU defensive back battling his way back from an injury. Last season, free safety Nick Patterson started the season opener against Northern Illinois but was edged out of the starting lineup by then-redshirt freshman Anderson Russell. When Russell suffered a torn ACL during the fifth game of the season, he was replaced in the starting lineup by Jamario O'Neal, not Patterson.

When fall camp broke, Patterson was listed as the primary backup to Russell at free safety while O'Neal was the backup to Kurt Coleman at strong safety. However, the two-deep for the YSU game does not feature Patterson's name anywhere.

As it turns out, he might have suffered a stress fracture in his foot during the summer.

"He has a small, I don't know if it was a stress fracture or what it was," Johnson said. "I think he's probably about 95 (percent) or so. He's still ginger, but I think he's ok."

When healthy, Johnson said Patterson is going to contribute "on special teams and things like that."

When In Doubt, Hit Someone: A five-star cornerback prospect as ranked by Scout.com, Clifford was pegged by many national analysts as one player certain to make an impact as a freshman. It is probably good for his future, then, that Jenkins – a first-team All-Big Ten defender last season – said he sees qualities in the 6-2, 190-pound freshman similar to those he possesses himself.

They might not be what you would expect, however.

"He kind of has the same attitude that I did when I came in: If he messes up, hit somebody," Jenkins said. "He's somebody that didn't catch on to the defense right away. It was just his mentality that, ‘I'm going to make a play if it comes to me, I'll make the tackle.' "

Both Jenkins and Johnson agreed that having that trait is often a big step toward getting onto the field sooner as opposed to later.

With Clifford's size and hitting ability, Johnson said he could not rule out eventually shifting him to safety at some point in his career – a position he occasionally manned during his high school career. However, his size has also somewhat hindered his development to this point.

"I think the biggest thing is the guys learning how to bend their knees and play with their knees bent, especially when they're tall guys like Eugene is," Johnson said. "He is a lot like Malcolm – actually, he's taller than Malcolm is. I think he'll have a chance if he learns how to bend his knees to be very effective, for sure."

Jenkins, it should be noted, is listed as 6-1.

You Always Remember Your First Time: Saturday's kickoff against the Penguins will mark a first for both Johnson and junior quarterback Todd Boeckman.

For Johnson, the newest member of the coaching staff, it will mark the first time he will run out onto the field with the Buckeyes. For Boeckman, it will be his first career start at OSU.

Both admitted to being at least a little nervous in the days leading up to kickoff.

"I think Friday night when I get into that hotel room and knowing I've got to wake up the next morning, they're going to set in a little bit," Boeckman said of the butterflies in his stomach. "I think anybody who goes out here and plays in front of 105,000 people at the ‘Shoe is going to have a few butterflies. With it being my first start, it's probably going to be a little tougher to take."

Johnson said he has already warned his wife, Sharday, that he will not be pleasant to deal with as kickoff nears.

"It hasn't hit me yet because I've got so much work to do, but come Friday for sure and as we get closer to game time you won't be able to talk to me pre-game, trust me," he said. "My wife tried that. It didn't work."

The pressures are likely greater on Boeckman, who has endured both a grayshirt and a redshirt season to arrive at this point. Having celebrated his 23rd birthday in early June, he said he should be prepared for the event.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I've been hearing a lot of good things about how Bobby Hoying handled himself, a guy I looked up to. Craig Krenzel, Troy Smith, I've looked up to those guys. I've had an opportunity to see how they've handled themselves.

"I've been visualizing that for 23 years. I'm 23 and I'm a junior – that's something else."


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