UNIVERSITY PARK - Great friends. Great talents. Great competitors. Even some great smack talk.
Allen Robinson versus Adrian Amos has to be the best matchup on the Penn State football team. If you count the best Nittany Lion players on one hand, Robinson and Amos definitely make the cut, and they can only help each other get even better going up against one another every day in practice.
"Me and him go at it a lot," said Robinson, who came out of nowhere to set the PSU season record with 77 catches last year. "We're definitely good friends, but we get out here and compete and make each other better all the time, and it's definitely good for us and good for the team."
Amos is a standout cornerback and, like Robinson, a good NFL prospect. Both could be playing on Sundays for many years, and if so, they'll always be able to look back on their time playing against each other at PSU as a factor that helped get them there.
"It makes us hold each other to a higher standard," Amos said of their one-on-one battles. "We're out there competing, and we know if we consider ourselves two of the better players, we have to perform at that high level."
Both are at a high level, but which one is higher when they go head-to-head?
"Of course I'm going to say me," Amos said with a smile.
He then was asked what Robinson would say.
"I hope he says him," Amos said. "It's about being competitive. You're supposed to want to win more. You're supposed to think you're better. It's confidence and competition."
Robinson also gave a big smile when told Amos said he wins the practice battles.
"Nah, I do," the receiver said.
"[About] 70-30," Robinson said.
It really doesn't matter much if Robinson or Amos is better now because they won't be opposing each other on Saturdays. That burden falls on opposing players.
The two Penn State standouts do have an idea of how tough the other is as a player because they compete so much in practice.
"Any time you have two good players that want to compete against each other, it's always good for the team," coach Bill O'Brien said.
Having a receiver who runs such precise routes, Amos said, can only make a defensive back better trying to cover him.
"He's very diverse in his routes, and he'll keep you guessing," Amos said of Robinson. "Other receivers, you learn where they're going, you kind of have tips on their routes. But he learns to keep the D-back guessing."
Robinson received a lot of praise for his route running last year, when he also caught 11 TDs and finished with 1,013 yards receiving.
"I'm just always trying to fine-tune my route-running and just doing different things that make cornerbacks uncomfortable," Robinson said.
His basketball background helps with his elusiveness - Robinson said he and receiver Eugene Lewis are the two best basketball players on the team - but he also has become a great student of the game watching a lot of film.
Robinson said he has studied the Buffalo Bills' Stevie Johnson and the New England Patriots' receivers. O'Brien used to be with the Patriots, while the Lions' receivers coach, Stan Hixon, coached Johnson in Buffalo.
Robinson is 6-foot-3, 217 pounds, up from 203 at the end of last season, and the junior wanted to bulk up to help his blocking skills and with breaking tackles.
"I definitely feel good," he said. "I cut down on body fat."
Amos emerged as PSU's best defensive back last year, finishing with 44 tackles, two interceptions and three pass breakups. The 6-foot, 209-pound junior has a chance to be one of the Big Ten's best at his position this year.
"Adrian's a great player," Robinson said before later adding, "He's a physical corner and a real fast guy, so there are different things that I have to do as far as technical stuff as a receiver [to beat him]."
Amos countered by saying Robinson is "good at playing with my leverage and different things like that."
Robinson and Amos are part of Penn State's "Supa Six" group of talented underclassmen. Keeping those players in the program has been key for Penn State because they could have transferred and played immediately under the NCAA sanctions.
"I think it was important for us to stay, just like it was important for the seniors staying [last year]," Amos said.
Some members of the Supa Six gave PSU fans a scare earlier this month with an April fool's day joke some people didn't find all that funny. Robinson tweeted that he would "no longer be attending penn state," which came as a shock to people before the gag was explained as a joke a few minutes later.
"I guess it was funny to a few of us, but it wasn't that funny," said Robinson, who learned from the incident that he has to think things through a little more before doing them.
There were no repercussions as far as any extra running, the receiver noted, from O'Brien after the gag.
"He didn't take it as bad as I thought he would," Robinson said.