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Penn State’s Supa Six: Amos, Smith & Robinson Return for Panel on Blue-White Friday

by on April 04, 2019 7:00 PM

Adrian Amos, Deion Barnes, Bill Belton, Kyle Carter, Allen Robinson and Donovan Smith.

The Supa Six has a special place in Penn State football history.

Undervalued, in fact.

Recruited by Joe Paterno, the six former Nittany Lions arrived in 2011 and over the next four years they were in many ways and many times the heart and soul of a transformational class that stayed and played through four head coaches and one scandal.

And they remain close to the heart of one of those head coaches.

“They were great football players and even better people,” Bill O’Brien said earlier this week, reached in Houston, where he’s been the Texans’ head coach since 2014.

“I love them,” O’Brien added.

That group formed the core of a team — led in 2012 by Mauti, Zordich, McGloin & Co. — that made sure Penn State did not suffer a single losing season in the deepest valleys of the scandal, going 8-4, 7-6 and 7-6 from 2012-14.

Next Friday, three of the Supa Six return to campus for Blue-White Weekend and a special panel discussion being held at 4:30 p.m. in the HUB Freeman Auditorium. Its focus is on the business of football, from the players’ perspective.

The program is a free event and, humbly, yours truly is the moderator. The star attractions will be Amos, Robinson and Smith — three young stars in the NFL who have already made their marks in a multitude of ways.

“I guess they’re doing OK,” Tom Bradley, another one of those head coaches, chuckled on Thursday. Bradley, the Nittany Lions’ long-time defensive coordinator, was Penn State’s interim head coach in late 2011 and is now a Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach.

“I mean, what do the three of them have in guaranteed contracts? About $70 million, or so?

“Seriously,” Bradley added, “that group of six are great examples of what Penn State football has always stood for. I’m proud of their success.”

The half-pack of the Supa Six will talk hard issues at the public event, sponsored by the Penn State Center for the Study of Sports in Society and the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, housed in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

There will be some discussion of their days on the Beaver Stadium sod and X’s and O’s. But we’ll talk dollars, sense, MRIs and professional POVs as well — everything from race in sports to social responsibility, and from free agency to the role of professional sports in society.


All three take their responsibilities very seriously.

They walk the walk.

And in Smith’s case — literally.

Follow Big Don, who plays offensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Twitter (@DSmith_76) and you’ll quickly learn of his good works in the Tampa Bay community and nationally with autism, including a fund-raising walk at Raymond James Stadium in three weeks. He’s as engaged as any pro athlete there is. Learn more here.

ARob’s “Within Reach Foundation” provides educational opportunities and resources to low-income and inner-city Chicago students to help put success within reach. For its work, Robinson — a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears — received a prestigious 2018 NFL Player Foundation Grant. Learn more here.

Amos, a safety who last month signed with Green Bay after starting his career in Chicago, has a strong yet powerful message for his works off the field: “God in all things.” Psalms 91 is his guiding mantra and his family is his inspiration: “I have four siblings. I don’t want them to admire me because I’m good at football… I want them to admire the work it took to get there.” Subscribe to Amos’ blog here.

As three young, successful and conscientious African-Americans, they want to tell their story — on and off the field.

As players, that story includes many seasons of hard work and success, dating back to their days at Penn State.


While at Penn State, the three started a total of 93 games — led by Amos, with 38 starts at cornerback/safety from 2011-14; followed by Smith, an offensive tackle (31, 2012-14); and Robinson, a wide receiver (24, 2011-13).

Smith was a three-starter for the Nittany Lions. In the 2015 NFL Draft, he was picked in the second round by Tampa Bay and Amos was selected in the fifth round by Chicago. Smith has started all 64 of Tampa Bay’s regular-season games in his four seasons in the NFL. He recently signed a three-year, $41.5 million contract extension with the Buccaneers.

“Donovan is a huge man with great athleticism,” O’Brien, now a rival NFL coach, said the other day. “He is one of the best left tackles in the NFL. I loved coaching him. When the sanctions came out, he had 40 offers and he chose to stay at Penn State.”

As a Nittany Lion, Amos tied for the team lead in interceptions in 2013 and was a savvy, swift and gutsy special teams player as well. “I loved how Adrian played corner and safety for us,” O’Brien said. “He was a very tough, smart and dependable player.”

In March, after four seasons with the Bears, Amos signed a four-year, $37 million contract with the Packers. In four seasons, he appeared in 60 games, with 56 starts. Amos was named to the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team in 2015 after becoming the first Bears rookie to lead the team in defensive tackles since 2000.

Robinson, a 2013 first-team All-American and two-time first-team All-Big Ten as a Nittany Lion, is Penn State’s single-season reception leader, with 97 catches for 1,432 yards in 2013. 

Robinson was a second-round selection by Jacksonville in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has 257 career receptions for 3,602 yards and 26 touchdowns, and holds the Jaguars’ franchise records for touchdown receptions, with 14 (2015). He appeared in the 2016 Pro Bowl. In 2018, Robinson signed a three-year, $42 million contract with Chicago.

“Allen is one of the best wide receivers I’ve ever coached,” said O’Brien, who spent many years with the New England Patriots as well as numerous stops in the college ranks. “He is an awesome competitor and a great athlete. He always wanted the ball.”

Next Friday, ARob & his Supa Six Friends — as close as they were in college — get the mic.

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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