Fast Track to Big Time

For a college football program like Tennessee that values speed above all other physical attributes, running back Armando Allen of Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School is a must-have football prospect.

Granted there are bigger running backs with more experience and greater production, but you'd be hard pressed to find any prospect in the Class of 2007 that can keep up with the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Allen in a foot race of 40 yards.

He turned in the fastest 40-yard time in Scout.com's national combine in San Antonio last January with a sizzling 4.38 clocking. No other prospect from the impressive assemblage of over 300 top athletes from across America was even close to equaling that signal achievement.

As a junior, while splitting carries with a top senior running back (Anthony Henderson), Allen rushed for 1,095 yards and 12 touchdowns in 122 carries over nine regular season games. He could see his offensive workload double in 2006 especially if Hialeah Lakes decides to scrape the spread offense for the power-I.

"He's going to be our tailback," Hialeah head coach Jerry Hughes told Jeff Baumhower of IrishEyes.com. "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".

In either alignment, the explosive Allen will be the focus of Hialeah's offense, as well as a target for some of the most ferocious defenses in Florida high school football.

"We had two pretty good tailbacks last year," Hughes explained. "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 Allen stays healthy he'll put up some robust numbers, raising his stock along with the stakes for a field of big-time schools seeking the prime-time services of a certified playmaker with game-altering speed.

"Speed," was Hughes' one-word respond when asked by Baumhower what Allen brings to the field. "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."

That package includes Allen's versatility and temerity to challenge run defenses on the inside, outside or any point along the line of scrimmage. He has splendid vision and the quickness to hit the crease. He runs with very good body lean, presenting a low profile target that's hard to hit squarely. Furthermore, he knows how to finish off a run to maximize his production.

"If we don't have anyone blocking for him, we'll let him do his thing on the outside," Hughes told Baumhower. "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."

Allen developed his pass-catching skills while playing H-back as a freshman and sophomore at Hialeah. He was also used effectively out of the slot on misdirection plays during those seasons and rushed for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore.

Armando Allen is sure to remind recruiting aficionados of Florida high school back C.J. Spiller, a prospect the Vols energetically pursued last season until falling out of the lead pack in the midst of their first losing record in 17 years. Currently, UT is among four schools being mentioned prominently with Allen along with Miami, Georgia and USC.

However, Allen is too busy running track and pursuing three state titles, to be too caught up in the hectic world of college football recruiting.

"I run the 110 hurdles, the 4 x 100, and the long jump," he told Brian Matthews of WeAreSC. "My fastest time in the 110 was 13.98. And the 4 x 100 we probably run a 42.2."

Allen is letting his track coach take care of all recruiting calls and correspondence until the track season is over.

"As of right now, I'm not really sure how many offers I have," Allen informed Matthews. "My track coach is handling my recruiting situation until track season is over. He fills me in with what's going on every two weeks or so, but I haven't checked up in a while."

Allen's apparent lack of concern about his recruitment isn't an accident. In fact, Allen doesn't have much faith in scholarship offers issued to juniors because he saw Hialeah's starting QB get left at the altar on National Signing Day 2006 .

That means developing trust will go a long way toward gaining Allen's approval, not to mention his signature. And it just might be turn out to be an advantage for a football program like Tennessee that has long placed its trust in speed.


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