“Pops,” Efland remembers his son saying, “the time is right.”
So David spent the first months of 2013 working to get faster and stronger, but mostly he dedicated himself to fundamentals: footwork and staying true to coverages.
“I was playing the wrong way,” he said of his final season with the Wolfpack. “I was always trying to get interceptions. I wasn’t playing honest as a DB; instead of playing off reaction and reading things and staying fundamentally sound, I started thinking like I know what’s coming every time.”
Amerson, an all-American after the 2011 season who likely would have been a first-round pick if he had been draft-eligible, instead slid to the second round in April.
Raheem Morris, the Redskins’ defensive backs coach, said he wants Amerson to improve his fundamentals — but not at the risk of the instincts that propelled the youngster in 2011 and hindered him a year later. It’s that drive for the big play that the Redskins like so much about Amerson, even if it needs to be sharpened.
“That’s what you’ve got to do at corner. Corners are going to get beat, or they’re going to try to win football games. That’s the name of the game for those guys,” Morris said. “They’re going to get you sometimes, and it’ll be nice to get them back.”
In other words, the Redskins, like Amerson’s father, want the rookie to learn balance, too. And if he reduces his mistakes, he could become a reliable, big-play threat in the secondary. His dad already believes David is a good man, strong and humble, eager to prove himself at football’s highest level.
For his part, Amerson said, his father’s words about extremes and balance make more sense; without spending time at the far ends of success and failure, he believes he wouldn’t be so prepared for challenges he’ll face as an NFL rookie.
“I learned from it,” Amerson said. “Whatever it was, to humble me, to get me back to playing the right way, get me back focused or staying on the task at hand — I just took that whole season, or especially those two games I had, and just learned.”