Vols Pursue Florida Flyer

While the Vols continue to collect homegrown talent at a relatively rapid rate, the focus of their current recruiting campaign will eventually shift to Florida which is once again loaded with premiere pigskin prospects.

Of particular interest to Tennessee is Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School running back Armando Allen, who is possibly the fastest prospect in the Class of 2006. He recorded the a 4.38 in the 40 at the Scout.com national combine in San Antonio to runaway with top honors. He has since blazed a 4.35 clocking.

Last month he provided further evidence of his prime-time speed by running a personal best 13.82 in the 110 meter high hurdles to capture the Class 4-A state title.

The 5-foot-10, 186-pound Allen is about more than raw speed. He's also an outstanding athlete who has a 38-inch vertical leap and excellent lateral quickness as measured by his 4.16 time in the shuttle. He has good hands, great vision and superb balance. Still the thing that best distinguishes this prospect who is rated No. 10 at his position and No. 89 overall is his ability to cover ground.

"Speed," was Hialeah head coach Jerry Hughes' one-word respond when asked 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 or outside. He has the explosiveness to hit the crease and the control with his stutter step style to change directions on a dime. 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.

As a junior operating in a two-back system, he gained 1,095 yards and 12 TDs in 122 carries over nine games, averaging nine yards per run. A three-year starter he played H-back as a freshman and is a pass catching threat coming out of the backfield.

Allen's value could increase is he decides to graduate in December. He indicates that's his plan if Hialeah wins the state championship this fall.

"If we don't have anyone blocking for him, we'll let him do his thing on the outside," Hughes told Jeff Baumhower of FightingIrish.com. "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 could go to virtually any program in the country, but he hasn't really begun the elimination process.

"Right now I'm not really looking into the recruiting process as much," he said, "because I am focused on really working to have a big senior year and get my team ready to make a run. After the season is when I'll really start to look at things hard."

Although he is focused on his upcoming season, Allen has maintained a consistent list of seven schools he considers to be favorites.

"Right now the schools I'm considering are Notre Dame, USC, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, Duke, and Georgia," he said. "I have a lot of offers, but those are the schools I'm looking at the most at this time."

UT's track program and history of allowing players to compete in both sports could have the Vols waiting at the finish line when the race for this speedster is over.

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