The third destination: Jaquan Amos' journey to Ball State football

Graduate student safety Jaquan Amos poses on the field at Scheumann Stadium Nov. 9. Jacy Bradley, DN
Graduate student safety Jaquan Amos poses on the field at Scheumann Stadium Nov. 9. Jacy Bradley, DN

For the average person, five years may seem like the blink of an eye. To graduate student safety Jaquan Amos, it has molded him into the man he is today.

Ball State is Amos’ third destination in the last five years for his college career. Before making his way to Muncie, he spent a year in Ames, Iowa, with the Iowa State Cyclones, shortly after playing three years in his hometown of Philadelphia with the Villanova Wildcats.

Tyrik Clary, Amos’s older brother, has seen Amos go at life above and beyond with the sedulous mindset that made him who he is. 

“He's a dominant guy, so he doesn't see a tie or come in at second,” Clary said. “ … He's always been a leader, from pee wee football, all the way up until Ball State, Iowa State, Villanova and all the way back to high school, he's always a leader, and he's always been the guy to go to, and he dominated, you know, I would say almost every single level.” 

Amos said dominance is a key factor to his athletic character. Playing at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, Amos said he has seen matchups that have influenced and sparked the very keen dominant trait he uses for motivation.

“It’s very competitive,” Amos said. “I grew up going to public school, we all grew up in public school, little league and high school. We all grew up together.”

Northeast head football coach Eric Clark, who’s known Amos since his freshman year of high school, expressed that Amos is one of a kind and has always been a leader.

Clark remembers a time when Amos became one the first football players of Clark’s new program at Northeast that transitioned to track in the spring, setting the tone for other Northeast alumni who are now Power 5 Division I athletes. 

“I think personally Jaquan changed the mentality of our football program, and it happened during the offseason,” Clark said. “He meddled in our city championship and was one of our top hurdlers and sprinters, he just flat out did it all … From that moment on, younger defensive backs started to follow his lead, and after that, wide receivers, linebackers and defensive ends, so it's a lot of guys that have come after him.”

Clark mentioned that there are multiple Division I athletes that have been mentored by Amos in their time at Northeast, including Elijah Jeudy and Tyreek Chappell of Texas A&M and Jon-Luke Peaker of Old Dominion.

After his time at Northeast, Amos decided to continue in the city of brotherly love and committed to play college football at Villanova University in his hometown.

He fell in love with the atmosphere Villanova offered him right off the bat. He said family is what matters most, and that is what he cared about whenever he looked up at the stands.

“Playing for ’Nova [Villanova] that was a good jawn [thing],” Amos said. “Just being that close to home, and every game, seeing you have a bunch of family members in the stands. Playing there was definitely a good part of the journey.”

Amos played three years at Villanova where he racked up 148 total tackles along with eight interceptions and four touchdowns.

After the 2019 season, Amos was left with a crucial decision to make regarding his future in college football. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conference canceled its football season.

With the CAA being one of few conferences in Division I to cancel football, Amos entered the transfer portal to continue his college football career.  

After going through a long and thorough process of seeing what institution would harvest his talent in the best way possible, Amos found himself in Ames, Iowa, home to Iowa State University Cyclones. 

“I [was] going to play,” Amos said. “I had a draft grade coming out of ‘Nova [Villanova], so I played at Iowa State and played in a Power 5 Conference.” 

Now a Cyclone, Amos had the rest of his college football journey lined up with a clear path to the NFL, until a major obstacle arose. 

Three games into his tenure at Iowa State, Amos tore an anterior fibula ligament in his ankle, along with having a severe case of plantar fasciitis in his heel. Not aware of the significance of the injury, Amos continued through the pain but soon realized it wasn't worth risking the future of his career. 

“I thought it was just like a sprained ankle, so I kept trying to wrap it up and keep going to show the coaches that I was tough,” Amos said. “But at some point, it was like I couldn't go anymore due to it hurting so much.”

Inactive for the rest of the season, Amos was left to rehabilitate and recover, so he could continue his journey. 

“Physically, just being in the treatment room every day strengthens it,” he said. “Mentally, just knowing it's only an injury, time goes on and eventually, I’m going to be able to play ball again and do what I love to do.” 

After a year with the Cyclones at Iowa State, Amos decided to enter the transfer portal for the second straight year with his extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the pandemic. 

When looking for schools, Amos said he grew intrigued by the culture and atmosphere Ball State had to offer, and his family felt the same way.

“He loved the coaching staff, everything he told us about Ball State reminded us of the family orientation because of how we are all tight and how the coaching staff and locker room is just as tight,” Clary said. “I was excited for him because, coming from Iowa State, he did get injured up there, so I was happy to hear that he was continuing to play ball and not giving up or letting anything slow him down.” 

The coaching staff guided Amos to his future home with the cardinals, but it was one coach in particular that hit home for Amos in his process of finding the next school to finish his college football career.

Graduate student safety Jaquan Amos poses on the field at Scheumann Stadium Nov. 9. Jacy Bradley, DN

Josh Zidenberg has been the passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach at Ball State since 2020. Prior to that, he spent a year at The College of William and Mary, also in the CAA with Villanova. 

Zidenberg was well aware of the impact Amos could bring to the Cardinals on and off the field.

“He was fulfilling a need that I'd felt we desperately needed,” Zindenberg said. “I want to say I talked to him the night he officially entered the portal and tried to set things up because I knew just from my previous stop and knowing him as a player, the talent he has and the ability for him to help us. After meeting him and being around him, [he] was even better than expected.” 

This season, Amos has helped the Cardinals rank second in allowed passing yards per game in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) with his defensive prowess in the secondary. 

Coach Zidenberg has seen a lot of fifth-year seniors and graduate student athletes from all over the country, but he said Amos is one of one with his character and mentality.

“He, by all means, exceeds the expectations. It's usually a gamble, especially with these graduate transfer portal guys who're coming into a culture that has already been established because you don't know what they've learned and what they’re accustomed to,” Zindenber said.

Amos talked about the biggest lesson that he has learned throughout his journey.

“Just keep going. You never know when your time is, you just have to keep striving, keep getting up and keep grinding.” 

Along his journey, he said he has found ways to cope with the cons of adversity and obstacles through connecting with family and close contacts.

“My number one goal is to keep growing as a man and be able to possibly be a pro,” Amos said. “Being able to take care of my family with the dream I have of playing football.”

Contact Calvin Scott with comments at or on Twitter @CalvinAJScott.


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