Allen Understands the Game

There might not be a more dynamic tailback in the country than Armando Allen of Hialeah-Miami Lakes high school (Hialeah, Fla.) Most prospects his age would do anything for the recruiting attention Allen's receiving from schools around the country. Like the football player, Allen isn't your typical high school junior.

At this time next year, Armando Allen (5-10, 195 pounds) will be able to pick any school in the country to attend – he's that good. Hialeah-Miami Lakes head coach Jerry Hughes believes he is a complete football player.

"Speed," coach Hughes said when asked what Allen brings to the field as a player. "We're watching the NFL combines and we see guys running 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5 forties, and this kid runs a 4.3-forty right now. Speed, humility, work ethic; he's got the whole package.

"He's going to be our tailback. We basically use a one-back (formation) we might go to a two-back because we don't have the skill position guys that we've had. We're running the spread offense and we'll possibly go back in the "I".

"We had two pretty good talkbacks last year. They were both pretty effective. We don't have that next year. All we have is Armando Allen and he's got to play smart where he doesn't get hurt. You're looking at a kid that is going to carry the ball 20 to 25 times a game. So he's got to play smart football to stay healthy.

"If we don't have anyone blocking for him, we'll let him do his thing on the outside," coach Hughes explained. "If we have decent blocking kids, we'll do everything with him; isolations, sweeps, counters. We'll throw the ball out of the backfield. He's very good at catching the ball.

"He played ‘H-back' for us as a freshman and as a sophomore, which is the slot guy. We did run a lot of misdirection plays for him, but basically we threw to him and he caught the ball real well. "

Notre Dame has sent Allen a scholarship offer, and they have spoken with coach Hughes about his star player, but Hughes is not a proponent of the current environment surrounding college football recruiting.

"We're putting kids in predicaments of giving them offers as juniors," coach Hughes explained. "I had it with our quarterback (Thaddeus Lewis) last year. Four schools offered him from the Big 12 and SEC. Four offers from bona fide schools and then come fall, they aren't even around. They didn't contact him. They didn't make an offer to sign, none of that. One of the schools he was definitely interested in and he was disappointed that they hadn't been in touch with him. Those (scholarship) letters mean nothing.

"I'm not letting four of those through this school this year. I have the letters pinned up here," Hughes added.

Although the recruiting process won't change immediately, Hughes believes changes need to be made to protect the kids.

"First of all the NCAA needs to change things," coach Hughes said. "Why can't we offer kids like basketball players -- have an early signing period. If they're going to offer this junior, then they need to send a certified scholarship with the A.D.s (athletic director) initials or signature on it and the head coach's signature on it.

"If you're not going to do that, the NCAA needs to do something about offering juniors. Go back to the old rule, or sign them early, or give them a bona fide scholarship that they don't sign until February. These letters aren't legit, they mean nothing.

"I tell them (coaches) please don't offer him, because it means nothing. They try to tell me ‘yes it does', but it doesn't. I'm interested in seeing if a team is truly interested in a young man when they offer him as a junior.

"Someone has to be held accountable. If you're going to make an offer to a kid, then send me the scholarship. Armando knows how it works because he was tight with the quarterback. We've got letters from Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Southern Cal and they don't mean anything." Top Stories