Alex Amidon was just paying it forward Monday when he reached out to freshman receivers Drew Barksdale and Charlie Callinan on the first day of Boston College’s football camp.
The senior wideout from Greenfield couldn’t help but chuckle and shake his head when he recognized their bewilderment as his own when he, too, was a freshman.
“They’re the new guys,’’ said Amidon, now a grizzled veteran who last season set BC season records for receptions (78) and receiving yards (1,210) and earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team honors.
“Obviously, they were coming in nervous about camp,’’ he said. “Today, during practice, I made sure to tell them, ‘Hey, it’s the first day, you’re going to make mistakes and stuff, but you can’t play afraid to make mistakes.’ ”
Amidon was simply communicating a message that had been delivered to him as a freshman by upperclassmen.
“Billy Flutie, he was one of the first guys to come and take me under his wing and teach me,’’ Amidon recalled. “During the summer, in seven-on-sevens, he taught me a lot. Ifeanyi Momah, who’s with the [Philadelphia] Eagles now, I actually roomed with him my freshman year in camp and he also helped me out a lot.”
Now, as the ranking member of BC’s receiving corps, Amidon is trying to set an example through this emerging leadership of the group. He’s become not just BC’s ring leader, but its wing leader.
“He’s come a long way,’’ said first-year BC coach Steve Addazio. “Alex was a guy when I first got here who really was a great kid and worked really hard, but, you know, he wasn’t going to say anything to anybody. He’s really started to develop as a senior leader.’’
It seems it was just yesterday that Amidon was a wide-eyed freshman, looking to make a positive impression on his first day of camp.
“Yeah, it’s weird,’’ Amidon said. “I was just thinking about that the other day. I was home with my family and I was talking about it. I had had hamstring problems and I came in and I didn’t know what I was doing.
“I had actually missed the whole camp with a hamstring injury, so it was a lot different. It was a pretty bad time because I was upset that I couldn’t play. But it does feel like it was just yesterday.’’
As a freshman in 2010, Amidon made 16 catches for 338 yards, including a career-long gain of 67 yards at North Carolina State, but he was overshadowed by Bobby Swigert, who established himself as Chase Rettig’s go-to receiver by making a combined 93 catches for 974 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first two seasons.
With Swigert still recovering from a season-ending knee injury suffered last Nov. 10 against Notre Dame, Amidon will be expected to reprise his role as Wes Welker to Rettig’s Tom Brady.
“I don’t know if we could compare like that,’’ Amidon said with a bashful laugh. “I’d like to think of myself as his go-to guy. But I don’t know.’’
When it was pointed out he wore the same number (83) as Welker, Amidon looked down at his jersey and nodded.
“Yeah, but now it would be Wes Welker to Peyton Manning,’’ he said.
While Amidon and Rettig forged a strong bond on the field last season, “freshman year, it definitely wasn’t that way between me and him,’’ Amidon said.
“I couldn’t handle how fast he threw the ball. It was a lot different than now,’’ Amidon said. “Now, he just knows where I’m going to be at and puts the ball on the money every time.
“I just know that if I’m running a certain route against a certain coverage, I’m going to get the ball every time. There’s no doubt where the ball is going to be.
“It’s almost like second nature.’’
A preseason selection on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate receiver, Amidon said his goal is to help develop the talents of BC’s receiving corps and nurture not only the newcomers but also returners such as Spiffy Evans and Dan Crimmins.
“Last year, I came into the season and more things went well personally for me than I could’ve ever imagined going into the season, and then we went 2-10,’’ Amidon said. “So I thought it doesn’t have anything to do how well I did.
“I’m just trying to get the other receivers going. We’ve got to have more than one. I can’t be the only receiver playing.
“So it’s really my goal to get everyone going, as a whole, so everyone can be a factor in a game. I don’t care if I come out of a game with three catches or whatever. But if Spiff and Crimmins produce and we win the game, then that’s what I’m trying to do right now.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.