By TEDDY ALLEN/Designated Writers
I was innocently standing around at Louisiana Tech football practice last week, about 10 feet from the sideline around midfield, when one of Tech’s cornerbacks, Amik Robertson, jumped high in back of a receiver who’d run what we used to call a flag route toward my sideline. He reached over the receiver and, at the height of his jump, picked off the pass without touching the guy the pass was intended for. Amik’s hands, attached to his 5-9 body, were just a little higher than the receiver’s hands.
He landed. With the football. And, with the play dead because it’s practice, he laughed.
But just another day at his outdoor office for the junior from Thibodaux, who was named Pro Football Focus (PFF) First Team All-America Monday, and that’s saying something because here’s how PFF picks its team:
“Utilizing our play-by-play grades of the every player on every play of every game, our list of All-Americans takes into account every player’s actions on the field on Saturdays while also utilizing our wealth of signature statistics to determine the list. The strength of opponent and consistent play also factor into our selections detailed below.”
Doesn’t matter where you play or where you’re from. I like that.
Second Team is Elijah Molden of Washington. Third team is Ahmad Gardner of Cincinnati. And Honorable Mentions are Jaylon Johnson of Utah and Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II.
The other first-string corner is Derek Stingley Jr. of LSU. (LSU QB Joe Burrow, frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, is first team at his position.)
Two years ago, Robertson earned a spot on the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American Team.
He’s the real deal. And getting real-er.
Here’s what PFF said about him. It’s just the facts, ma’am…:
No cornerback made more plays on the ball than Robertson did during the season, breaking up 17 balls and intercepting five more to record just a 53.7 passer rating into his primary coverage. Limiting himself to just two penalties all year, Robertson played a sticky but safe brand of coverage and dominated at the catch point. His 19 total forced incompletions led the nation as he allowed a catch just 52.6% of the time into his coverage, all leading to his national-best coverage grade of 91.3. He was terrific across the board but not just against the pass.
Robertson also made 24 total defensive stops, ranking eighth among all cornerbacks, and that went as far as timing blitzes with near perfection, getting home with pressure on a third of his pass-rushes.
He jumped early once this year on a deep ball and, instead of getting an interception, gave up a big catch. Saturday in the final win of Tech’s 9-3 regular season, he made a bad decision as a punt returner and cost his team a touchdown. He’ll take a risk now and then and come in second.
But he practices hard and he plays hard and he’s saved Tech’s bacon more than once. He took over the North Texas game back in October. And he’s a big reason the Bulldogs have a chance to win their sixth bowl game in six consecutive years.
By the way, Amik is his mom Kima’s name, spelled backward. “I didn’t like it at first,” he said a couple of years ago when I asked him. “I kind of like it now.”
It’ll be a bummer if Tech fans won’t hear it again in Joe Aillet Stadium. Hopefully he’ll stick around for his senior season. He’s given no indication he won’t. Because of his talent and work and heart for the game, and because of the position he plays, he’s one of those “he alone is worth the price of admission” guys. And a Team Guy all the way.
In Tech’s 45-30 victory over Southern Miss in October, Robertson picked off three passes, added two pass break-ups, made a tackle at the 17 on a kick cover play, and knocked out USM’s leading rusher with a legal but vicious tackle. In the post-game press conference, he was asked what his favorite play of the night was.
“Winning,” he said. Then he waited for the next question.
You can find the rest of the PFF team here:
📰 | bit.ly/2r3UUdI