Northeast graduate Jaquan Amos didn’t expect to be starting his freshman year at Villanova University.
Jaquan Amos expected to learn and earn.
He ended up doing much more.
Amos is a freshman defensive back on the Villanova University football team, and when he decided to become a Wildcat, he figured his first year would be mostly served as an understudy.
Villanova returned four seniors in the defensive backfield, so Amos figured he would redshirt this year and be ready for a super sophomore season.
Things didn’t go as planned.
“When the season started, I became the nickel back, so I was getting time right away,” said Amos, who led Northeast High School to the Public League AAAAAA championship last year. “Then one of our guys, a senior, tore his ACL and it ended his year. So ever since then, I’ve been starting.
“I play a little safety, which I mostly played in high school, but now I’m playing a lot at cornerback.”
Wherever he lines up, Amos is making plays. During his time at Northeast, Amos helped the school win its first 11 games of his junior season, and not suffer its first loss until the Public League championship.
As a senior, he guided the Vikings to the Public League championship.
Amos was one of the best defensive players in the Public League, but he was also willing to play wherever he was needed. When Northeast needed a quarterback, he jumped right in. If the Vikings needed a tailback, he was ready to roll.
Whatever they needed, Amos just wanted to make plays.
He’s picked up in college right where he left off in high school.
Amos has been making plays for the Wildcats. His biggest was a 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Maine in a 31–0 victory for Villanova. The score swung the momentum away from Maine, which was driving to tie the score. Instead, the Wildcats jumped out to a 14-point edge, and in the process, he became just the third player in FCS history to record a 99-yard fumble return.
‘I saw the ball, and I wasn’t going to (dive on it), I’m a playmaker,” Amos said. “I didn’t try and do anything but make a play. It was great, though, I was rookie of the week. Anytime I get an opportunity, I try to make a play.
“I was definitely tired, but we won the game. That was a big play, and I’m only the third person to make that kind of play, 99 yards. It felt great.”
Amos had a strong all-around season.
On top of his historic fumble return, he picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown. He also notched 45 tackles, including two tackles for a loss, and broke up four passes.
“When the season started, a lot of people were throwing my way because I was the new guy, so they tried to pick on me a lot,” said Amos, whose team finished 5–6 on the year. “I think I got better. We had really good defensive backs, so I was happy to come in and learn. I think we could have done better, overall. We can play better.”
That leaves a lot of room for optimism.
Next year, the Wildcats return three members of their defensive backfield, and Amos will be a season better.
“We have a lot of talent, I think we’ll play better together,” Amos said. “We played five defensive backs a lot. I have some experience, and we’ll have a great senior back to lead us.
“We get great coaching here, so we’ll be better. We get better all the time.”
The work doesn’t come easily, though.
Amos worked hard when he was at Northeast, but playing for Villanova is much different. Every day, he would wake up at 6 a.m., eat breakfast, go to practice, hit the weight room and then go to class.
From the time he wakes up until about 8 p.m., he has very little free time.
“It’s hard, but it’s worth it,” said Amos, who is studying liberal arts. “There’s not a lot of down time. We’re always working hard, we have time to study, I’m never free until after 8:30, and then you’re usually tired. But that’s how we get better.”
Amos, who would return to watch the Vikings play whenever his schedule permitted, hopes to someday return to his high school when he’s playing in the NFL.
That takes a lot of work, and he knows how much effort he’ll have to put in if he wants to play on Sunday.
“I’m just trying to take advantage of every chance I get,” said Amos, who was also an All-Public track star in high school. “This year didn’t go as planned, but I’m happy I got a chance to play. Now I’m ready to get better. It was hard, but that makes me want to work harder. I’m always looking forward to playing.”