Big things are expected out of Allen and we got a chance to talk with the junior safety about what it feels like coming out here for your third preseason.
"It feels great. I feel a lot more comfortable with the defense," said Allen. "I learned a lot from the veterans and just feel a lot more comfortable, everything has slowed down a lot since my freshman year. It feels good to know everything better."
There's been a lot of talk about a difference in the team this year from last year, but Allen doesn't see it that way. "I think it's the same, we come out and work everyday," said Allen. "The preseason goal is to win the BIG EAST. Coach Leavitt just pushes us every day, and tells us to work hard and go at it, so that's all we do."
Last year Nate had a break out year, full of accolades including being named to the pre-season All-Big East first-team, and a as one of the top safeties in the country, but Allen doesn't let it go to his head.
"It's all good, but I try not to let that [accolades] get to me and just let all that do what it does," said Allen. "If you play well that will come, if you win that will come. So I try not to think about it too much and just play my game."
Allen was stellar last year, but not to be complacent, worked hard this off-season to get better, and improve physically. "I put on five pounds so I feel like I got bigger and a little faster. "
Besides improving across the board physically, Allen's biggest improvement was in the mental aspect of his game. "Oh, big time mentally," said Allen. "I feel like I learned the defense so much more then my freshman year and even from last year, I was still learning and everything. Coming into this year I feel a lot more confident."
Nate may only be entering his junior season as a Bull, but in his time has made a huge impact and is quietly becoming one of the leaders on the defense. "I don't talk a lot and just try to lead by example when ever I can," said Allen. "We got some vocal leaders on this team, T-Mac, Carlton & a lot of the seniors. So I just try and go in there and do my part and lead by example."
The Bulls are flush at the safety position with several veteran leaders in the unit, but have first time starters at both corner positions, and the safeties are being looked upon to help them out.
"They're first time starters, but they're not rookies, the corners are old veteran corners, and they helping the unit out too," said Allen. "We got a couple of young guys, and we're all just trying to help them learn everything in the film room, and out on the field with experience, and help them out as much as we can."
The USF receiver unit has "whose got the juice?" used as a motivational tool, as other units have something similar, but does the secondary have a mantra or something used for motivation?
"I don't know, we got a bunch of clowns in the secondary," said Allen. It's just fun being with those guys and we motivate each other, because we want to be the best, and we compete within each other."
With about twenty practices jammed into the next two weeks, Allen has modest, but sincere goals that he wants to accomplish the rest of the pre-season.
"I just want to get better everyday, get ready for the season, and win the BIG EAST!"
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