Jason Allen keeping his head

Muscle Shoals (Ala.) athlete Jason Allen has certainly gotten plenty of attention over the past 12 months, but his recent work ethic indicates the high school star hasn't gotten a big head because of it.

Trojans' coach Cody Keene, who has asked his top-notch recruit to play defensive back, running back and kick returner — receiving top-notch results from Allen in all three facets of the game — was in a hurry as he wrapped up a recent practice. Keene, who had a meeting scheduled that evening, was the last man on his way out the gate after the workout. He turned around and found Allen running more sprints after practice.

"Jason is as good a person as he is a football player," said head coach Cody Keene. "He's a great kid and a good leader. He does everything he can to help the kids around him play well. If he's not in the game, which is not very often, He's always cheering. He's just a pleasure to coach."

Allen stands at 6-foot-1, weighs 195 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4-second range. As a junior, he rushed for 1,300 yards and 20 touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass, returned five kickoffs for touchdowns and returned one interception for a touchdown. In addition to scoring four different ways, Allen also collected 54 tackles, seven interceptions, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

Also a track athlete, Allen runs the 100 meters in 10.9 seconds and has turned in a 22-foot-10-inch long jump.

Naturally, he has become one of the most coveted recruits in the country, but Keene says it hasn't been much a distraction.

"Jason has done a very good job with that," Keene said. "He's always got people calling him and calling myself. But he's handled the attention very well."

Perhaps part of the reason for that, aside from Allen's maturity, is because Allen is focused primarily on one thing — helping his team win the Alabama state championship.


"The only thing I think that could stop us is ourselves," Allen told Tiger Rag. "It's more the mental things that could stand in the way. I think the ability is there."

Allen, who sports a 3.3 grade-point average and scored a 17 on his ACT, will graduate in December and plans to enroll at whatever school he chooses in January. He would therefore count against a school's 2001-02 scholarship numbers, and Allen says he's had more than 25 scholarship offers to date.

In essence, Allen has pared down his choices to four schools: LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. He has set up visits for Baton Rouge on Oct. 6, when the Tigers host Florida, as well as trips to Knoxville and Athens later in the year. But that hasn't kept the phone from ringing on a constant basis since college coaches could begin re-dialing prospects' telephone numbers Saturday.

"It's been bad, but to be honest with you, I haven't been there to answer (the phone) much since then," Allen said. "I've only talked to three or four (coaches)."

Allen camped at Georgia, LSU and Georgia Tech over the summer. During his trip to Baton Rouge, he got the chance to learn from (and talk with) head coach Nick Saban.

"Coach Saban offered me a scholarship (during) spring practice," Allen said. "At the camp, he helped me on technique and he said he would like to have me as a free safety."

Allen, who also gives the coaching staffs at Tennessee and Georgia high marks, said he enjoyed his time at LSU. He said he also believes that under Saban, the Tigers will contend for a Southeastern Conference title.

"That would be one reason why I would like LSU," Allen said. "I think they'll be a championship contender, and their safeties are (seniors)."

Georgia is recruiting Allen as a running back. Tennessee is recruiting him as a receiver. Allen says it doesn't matter what position he plays after he leaves Muscle Shoals.

During the process, he says, some unnamed schools have taken to attacking one another.

"That's just something that goes with the recruiting process, and that's something that I really dislike about the recruiting process," Allen said. "Instead of people talking about the positive things about their school, they'll say something bad about another university. I don't like that."

Not surprisingly, Allen said Alabama has been the main target, with an NCAA letter of inquiry and probable penalties looming for the Crimson Tide.

Whichever school Allen chooses, Keene says, will get a hard-working, disciplined leader.

"He's a very determined young man, and he's very team-oriented," Keene said. "He gets a lot of individual team accolades, but he's really a team leader. He sets really high standards for himself. Then he works his tail off to try and achieve them."


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