Allegretti the All-American

Lincoln-Way East center Nick Allegretti is the first Illini commitment set to play in the Army All-American Bowl since 2009.

FRANKFORT, Ill. – Nick Allegretti slipped the black and gold Army jersey over his dress shirt and tie in front of family, coaches, teachers and teammates at a press conference Monday morning at Lincoln-Way East High School.

The jersey read No. 14 and it looked like it was made for the quarterbacks the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Allegretti spends his Friday nights protecting.

"We don't make them any bigger," Sergeant First Class Brian Jones said, drawing laughs from the crowd.

Allegretti then stepped to the podium and did what he did best – he deflected the individual praise like it was an ill-advised pass rusher.

"With all due respect to this game I would give it up in a second to go back to state with you guys," he said looking at his teammates in the crowd. "I'm not ready for this to be over and I know none of you guys are."

The Griffins lost in the state title game last season. Allegretti, a rare three-year starter at center for the successful program, is one piece of the puzzle Coach Rob Zvonor doesn't have to worry about heading into games.

"As you hear him speak, his priority is with his team this year until the time comes," Zvonor said. "Until then he'll put (the Army All-American game) on the backburner. It truly is the best of the best in the country and having had the privilege of being a coach for the game in 2007, there's no doubt he is the caliber player that they're looking for. His personal character and academic work is just a huge bonus to that as well."

Allegretti quickly wiped a tear as an Army spokesman summarized the event. The game is set for Jan. 4 in San Antonio's Alamo Dome, televised nationally on NBC. 90 high school football players and 125 marching band members are selected from across the country to participate.

Allegretti is the first University of Illinois commitment slated to play in the game since Justin Green in 2009.

For Allegretti, having his teammates at the press conference meant a great deal.

"That was pretty special. For all of them to be up an hour early and come here to support me, it's pretty cool that they're all here and proud to me," he said.

The humble approach has always been Allegretti's style according to East principal Dr. Sharon Michalak.

"He's genuinely a good person," said Michalak, who added she was proud that Allegretti chose to play for Illinois, where she attended. "He's very polite, very respectful and that is a credit to his parents and his coaches. They helped mold him that way."

His parents, Carl and Tammy, were on the front row for the announcement. Tammy took photos. Carl pressed the flesh and thanked everybody for waking up early to attend.

"He's worked so hard, not just in sports but in school," Tammy said. "He actually has like a 4.6 grade point average. That's pretty good considering he does two sports, at one point three sports. I'm just really proud of him. He pretty much just spends most of his time with sports, studying and with his family."

The Allegrettis are a close-knit group. Older brother Joey is a sophomore at Illinois. He's already prepping Nick for the business and accounting classes he'll need to take next year.

After the announcement, everybody wanted a photo with Nick in front of the Army backdrop. Finally, after everybody had their turn, Carl and Tammy were able to step in and share the moment with their son.

"My mom looks out for me in everything, still makes my lunch every day," Nick said. "I'll make my bed once a week, maybe. She pretty much does everything for me. She helps me with my homework if I need it. My dad travels all the time, but never misses anything. He'll be in New York Tuesday morning and he'll be back for a (wrestling match) that night and then go back to New York. Whatever he can do, he'll be there."

The Allegrettis will be in the Lone Star State in early January. Their youngest son is an Army All American.

Nick Allegretti receives his Army All American jersey at Lincoln Way East High School

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