CHARLOTTE — When it comes to Michael Allen's recruitment, one name stands out above all others — his mother's.
When the Scout three-star defensive end visits a school and compiles his list of top programs, he quickly defers to his mom, Bridgette Garnier, to see if she's comfortable with what she sees.
"Normally after every trip I go to, I ask her to give me the green light, because I know I can't go to a school until she's happy with it," Allen told InsideTennessee during The Charlotte Opening on April 24. "From her, she already gave me the green light for Tennessee, Georgia and, I think, Wake Forest."
The Vols have passed Allen's most strenuous test, and now hope to land the No. 6-ranked defensive end in Georgia's talents out of a wide array of suitors. Allen has racked up more than a dozen offers and counting so far as he heads into his senior year at Lanier High School in Buford, Georgia, with Tennessee being of his favorite ones.
"The (schools) most talking to me is still about the same," Allen told IT. "Tennessee, Georgia and Wake (Forest). South Carolina talks to me a few times. Nebraska coaches, Arkansas coaches, pretty much (those schools), they talk to me the most."
For now, though, Allen sees two schools standing out on top.
"I liked when I went up to Tennessee and Georgia," he said. "Those two are really good that I saw."
The Vols are using a combination of running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Robert Gillespie, defensive line coach Steve Stripling and graduate assistant Nathan Ollie to recruit the 6-foot-6, 245-pound wrecking ball on the edge. Allen has visited Knoxville a handful of times before and said he always comes away impressed at the atmosphere surrounding the program.
"I speak with coach Gillespie and coach Strip mostly, and coach Ollie. Gillespie is my recruiting coach, and it's a good vibe at Tennessee," he said. "It's a good home field and I like it. It's really good."
The versatile end already sees his niche carved out in Tennessee's defensive scheme. The Vols coaching staff wants Allen to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks from the edge, much like All-America candidate and current junior edge rusher Derek Barnett.
"I would be an outside rusher, and I think I might go back to linebacker a few times maybe," Allen told IT. "They just have their defensive ends rush. That's pretty much where I would be. I don't know if I'd be playing linebacker there or not. I'm fine with just playing defensive end."
The Vols know they'll have to appeal to Mrs. Garnier just as much as her son, which means showcasing the school's nurturing environment will go a long way with this tight-knit family.
"Both of us want academics first," Allen said. "I don't know exactly what she looks for, but I guess whatever school takes care of me the best, that's what she likes."