Allen's Recovery on the Mark

With the Class of 2013 on board, get an update on the first member of Penn State's Class of 2014. He is treating a knee injury as a learning experience.

Mark Allen has learned a lot about himself since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee six games into DeMatha Catholic's (Hyattsville, Md.) 2012 season.

He gained, lost and regained weight. And he reconnected spiritually in the months following his October surgery to fix his ACL, resulting in a rehab schedule he calls ahead of schedule.

“I've gotten stronger upper-body wise, and this process has definitely humbled me,” Allen said. “I've connected again with God, and it sounds kind of selfish, but I hadn't been praying and stuff before. But now I'm going to church and doing all that stuff again, asking Him to get me back to where I was and beyond.”

His commitment to Penn State is one of the few things that have remained status quo for the 5-foot-8, 177-pound running back who dropped all the way down to 166 pounds following his surgery. He's gained most of that weight back, though.

And his commitment to Bill O'Brien's program is as solid as ever.

“I'm straight, on the narrow with Penn State. That's where I'm going,” Allen said. “I really loved how the coaches spoke to me and the vibe they gave off, and how things were going to be with Coach O'Brien. He's going to bring the Penn State name back up, and I believe I can fit in well with the offense there as well as with Coach O'Brien.”

Allen blazed through a 40-yard-dash in 4.4 seconds last June at Penn State's Advanced Skill Camp, where he first came onto the Nittany Lions' radar. The camp sold him.

“I went up there to Penn State for the camp, and the running backs coach [Charles London] told me a lot, and helped me a lot,” Allen said. “Coach O'Brien seems real cool, and I love the whole state of Pennsylvania, period. They love Penn State football and everybody there will be cheering my name.”

The running back's knee is healing well, and he's already progressed to doing back-pedaling drills to test his hamstring, which he says feels great. He also received tips from a prominent Nittany Lion who also underwent ACL surgery recently.

Adam Breneman texted me, and we were just talking about committing, and he was also asking me about and giving me tips on how to get back from surgery and stuff like that,” Allen said, referring to the five-star tight end prospect who enrolled at PSU in January. “That just really showed me that even though I'm not at Penn State yet, we're already developing a brotherhood. For him to text me on the random, and give me tips and ask how everything was going; I was surprised and happy at the same time.”

Suiting up for DeMatha for another season will certainly draw attention for a back who scurried for over 600 yards in just six games. Other programs have already began contacting DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks about the talented junior. But Allen has repeatedly and affirmatively said that he has no intentions of gazing elsewhere.

“Before I committed, Maryland was talking to my coach about me, and so, too, were West Virginia, Wake Forrest and some other places,” Allen said. “My coach told me recently that Boston College asked about me, but I'm focused on Penn State.”

And soon, he'll be focused on his senior season, and at least 12 games that will get him closer to signing day 2014.

“Coaches say that I'm not a big back, but I can do a lot of big-back things. I can play in the slot, play as a speed back and run sweeps, or go between the tackles, too,” Allen said. “I went to the doctor about a week ago, and they said I was ahead of schedule. I should be running by the end of March, beginning of April with a brace, and be back fully by July.”

Allen will make an unofficial visit to PSU Feb. 23 and then return for the Nittany Lions' spring game in April.

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