Allen Working on Home Improvement

With his commitment status assured Sunday, the DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) running back is working to help fill out the Lions' Class of 2014.

James Franklin moved quickly to talk to every verbal commitment to Penn State's Class of 2014 during his first days as the Lions' new leader. But one question always remained: what's the deal with Mark Allen?

The DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) running back was the first prospect to commit to the Class of 2014, a pledge that has stood since October of his junior year. He missed time with an ACL injury to start the 2013 season, which led to some uncertainty about his health, but his importance to the class, and specifically its solidity during a transition from Bill O'Brien to Franklin, was unquestioned.

Yet, it seemed as if his commitment being solidified by the program was in flux. In hindsight, that wasn't really the case: an assistant stopped by DeMatha last Tuesday, just four days after Franklin took over, and Allen spoke to the new head not long afterward. By Sunday, he was at University Park, where it became certain the 5-foot-8, 185-pound back was always a Lion, and will continue to be.

"I was up there for maybe two hours, but I talked to Coach Franklin, the running backs coach [Charlie Huff] and the strength and conditioning coach [Dwight Galt III]," Allen said. "I wasn't really concerned, but I'm just glad that everything is squared away now.

"I'm just a Penn State kid, and I'm glad to get the news to know I'll be with my dream school with my dream coaches."

Huff will head to DeMatha next Wednesday for some more one-on-one time with the running back, and Allen will return to campus again Jan. 24 for Penn State's biggest recruiting weekend of the cycle.

"[Franklin] just seemed like a really cool guy. I hadn't got a feel for him over the phone, but when we talked [Sunday], he seemed like a real down-to-Earth guy and said the best guys are going to play no matter how tall or how short," Allen said. "That's basically what I like: I want a fair shot, and it sounded great. He seemed like a guy that's all about competition."

Allen got similar vibes about Huff and Galt. The former joined the Lions staff and immediately hit the recruiting trail in Detroit and will be on the road along with the rest of Franklin's staff in the days leading up to Signing Day Feb. 5.

"I got the same impression I did from him that I did from [former strength and conditioning coach Craig] Fitzgerald," Allen said of Galt. "I look forward to getting to know him And Coach Huff just seemed real cool."

In its last three cycles, Penn State has been greatly aided by recruited prospects becoming recruiting tools as commits. Allen has continued that tradition. It's a rare moment when he's not directing conversation or checking in with prospects to see how things are going. To him, it just makes sense.

So does looking toward the future, which Allen knows is assured after his Sunday trip.

"It feels great," he said. "I'm just trying to develop a recruiting class because I can't wait to get up there to take Penn State to another level. I just can't wait to get there."

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