Inside the Class of '07: Tray Allen

The 2nd in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '07 is on a player who could be the crown jewel of the class: Offensive Lineman Tray Allen.

Tray Allen
Offensive Lineman
South Grande Prairie High School
National Rank at OG: 1
Overall State Rank: 2
Star Rating: *****

An Inside Texas conversation with SGP head coach David Fisher on Tray Allen:

Inside Texas: Has Tray been a UT fan for a long time?

David Fisher: Yeah, I think he grew up that way. It's hard to be in Texas as a kid and not like Texas or Texas A&M or Texas Tech. Your favorite team's one of them. He seemed to always, at least the last three or four years that he's been around us, talked about Texas.

IT: We talked with him about his ability to see the football field and the intuitive sense that he has. Do you see that in him?

Fisher: Well I think, you know, he's got good football sense. There are kids that have a 4.0 in the classroom and then they're a 1.0 on the football field and vice versa sometimes, but Tray has a good what we call "football sense" and we take pride in that because in the off-season we even have a class we do in off-season football called "Football 101," where we actually teach them a lot of the game of football, because you'd be surprised how many kids don't even know all of the rules, like an on-side kick or a muffed punt or a fair catch or a touchback. So we try to take nothing for granted and he's been through that class with us for three years too. So that, and our coaches have done a really good job, I think, giving him a coach's viewpoint as a player and he plays our quick tackle position and he has to make a lot of calls as to things he sees in the front and linebackers and things like that. So I think he's got good football sense.

IT: Talking with him, he seems really sharp.

Fisher: Yeah and he's been in our system. We run our same offense on our 7th and 8th grade middle school feeders and we run our same offense on our 9th grade team and we run our same offense on our sophomore, JV and varsity. So he's been involved in our system, you could say, and he's been blessed to be a part of that all of his years here and that's helped him as well.

IT: He's obviously been a leader for the players here (at South Grand Prairie), but, talking with the other recruits, it seems he's been the leader of this recruiting class. What kind of qualities does he have that made him take that kind of role?

Fisher: Well, he has a great leadership character and quality and that's another thing I'll tell you, we have a course that we do here called "Leadership and Character Building" and we do that in our off-season as well and we have a curriculum that we wrote that we spend time on with the kids. The things we do with "Football 101" and "Leadership and Character Building" we do in January, February and March when we're waiting to get to spring ball and in the weight room we hit it pretty hard four days a week and on that fifth day that's what we do. We've also trained him up in our "Leadership and Character Building," this is also a "Character Counts" school here at South Grande Prairie High School. So we work a lot on the six pillars of character, too. He's had the benefit of being in that in his four years here. But some kids are good leaders naturally and some need a little training. So we take the proactive approach that we're going to train them all and we're going to make the ones that are pretty good leaders great leaders and the ones that are average leaders good leaders. He's always been a good leader and he leads a lot by example. I think some of the best leaders don't have to say a lot. They're just the first ones on the field and the last ones to leave, first one to finish every race or sprint or competition. So he's been a good leader on and off the field.

IT: He's got really good body shape for a high school player. When was it that you first came to the realization that this guys' going to be more than just a good high school player, he's a guy who's going to take his game even further than that?

Fisher: Well you know Tray's a great athlete. As a freshman he was a three-sport athlete. He was a big 'ole, tall, lanky kid. Even then we knew he had great potential. He played first base in baseball, played post on the basketball team and played football. And then I think he started really seeing his sophomore year that if he really concentrated in the weight room and really build up his body and strength, he's going to have a really big frame. With his athleticism, he had a chance to be a really great player and we talked to him about that. Probably started about his sophomore year and even as a sophomore he traveled with us on the varsity, even at a 5A school and you don't start many sophomores on your offensive line. So he was a back-up for us that year, but he got a lot of experience and playing time in that back-up role and stuff. So we pretty much knew by his sophomore year he had a chance to be really good if he continued to work in the weight room and, again, that's something we pride ourselves in is our off-season program. He never missed in there and in our "Summer Pride" program, which is all June and July at 6:30 in the morning, and he'd never miss that as well. We knew once he bought into our speed, strength and conditioning programs, both off-season and "Summer Pride," that he was going to really end up being a great player. By the time we got to this year and the start of the season he was 6-foot-4, 310 pounds and running a 5.2 40. And so we knew he had a chance to have another great season and he really did and we were proud. That's another thing. When you verbally commit early like he did, sometimes it's hard to stay motivated. You know some kids aren't mature enough to handle it. "Well I've already got mine. I'm done. I can just coast." He was never like that. He continued to work hard and continued to be a leader and because of that we won 10 football games again for the second year in a row and were bi-district champs for the second year in a row and, of course, he was named First Team All-State by the Associated Press and he was named First Team All-District in 7-5A. Coaches were proud of him for his effort and I was proud of him for that as much as anything and also he would go out each Friday night and he'd have a huge bull's-eye, as you'd say, on his chest because every defensive lineman would say, "Man, that's that No. 1 recruit in Texas. I'm going to beat him tonight." He got everybody's best game. And so I talked to him about that before the season started. I said, "You got a lot of expectations to live up to. You'd better bring your best game every Friday night or somebody's gonna embarrass you." And he did. He brought his best game every Friday night and I don't think anybody ever got the best of him for 12 straight games. He won every battle. I was impressed in that part of his maturity.

IT: Something I noticed when I watched his film was, I know you say "play to the whistle," but Tray looks like he plays past the whistle and really drives his blocks.

Fisher: Yeah, there's no doubt that's a quality that he has that many young kids don't have. We call that "blocking to the echo of the whistle" and that's another saying we have around here. We don't want to play to the whistle, we want to play to the echo of the whistle, meaning that one step further or that one last drive or whatever, like you're talking about. But many times we're trying to literally will that into kids at this age level. Tray did have an innate sense to be a great finisher, even early, and that's another reason he has a chance to be such a good offensive linemen in college and maybe even at the next level and that's also what college recruiters, I'll promise you, saw that made him the most highly recruited offensive linemen in the state of Texas and the No. 1 recruit because they saw that same finishing quality that they spend countless hours in drills trying to teach, even in college, and there he has it as a 17-year-old high school kid. I think that's another reason I think he has a chance to go a long ways with his career, not just in college.

IT: What is it that he needs to work on and improve?

Fisher: We always tell him, just because he's so big, you can never have enough foot-speed. Offensive linemen don't need to beat you in the 40-yard dash, but they need to be able to move quickly in small spaces. We've always been on him. His strength is really good. He's over a 300-pound bencher and over a 500-pound squatter, over a 400-pound power clean. He's really strong. We just constantly, because he's got such a big frame and such big mass on his body, he constantly, we think, needs to continue to improve his foot-speed. Not that he doesn't have great foot-speed for a body his size, now, but everything will be faster at the next level and if he gets fortunate to go to the next level, things will be even faster. That's the thing, when you're that big, you need to stay up with and as his body matures, he's not through growing yet. I mean, he's an 18-year-old kid. He's going to continue to get bigger, especially when he gets on a training table at Texas, gets into one sport and is lifting weights year-round. So, he's going to continue to have to work on his foot-speed to play the position he plays because the defensive guy, as they kid around, they put all the players on defense and all the leftovers on offense. The guys he's going to be going against are going to be pretty good athletes. So I think he's got to keep working on his foot-speed.

IT: Yeah, they change when they get there. I mean, (Former South Grande Prairie DL) Brian Ellis, after just one year…

Fisher: Amazing. And that's just that maturation. That's the training table, that's doing weights 12 months, that's doing one sport. You know Tray's also messed around with shot and disc. When you get to college you just do that one sport and you lift all the time and your body, you grow until you're 19-20 years old. He's not through yet. Like you said, if he grows like Brian Ellis, he's liable to be 6-5, you know, 320 and still running 5.2. That's what he'll have just continue to work on is agility, speed and quickness stuff because he's just such a huge body.

IT: What's something unique about Tray people might not know?

Fisher: I think one thing he does that's kind of neat is he umpires little kids' baseball and I think it's neat he still does that and he spends time. Of course, he's such an imposing figure and he's got there little kids out there playing this sport, this huge guy's out there being an umpire, even though he's only 17-18 years old and I think that's kind of neat that he does that as one of his part-time, kind of, jobs that he's a part-time umpire. I don't know if they can find an outfit big enough to put on him, because most umpires aren't 6-4, 310, but he's doing it, not with grown men, but little, tiny elementary-age kids. But that's what great about Tray. What you'll find is he's an even better person than he is football player.

Also see: Allen Reviews His All-American Week

A Scout's Report: Tray Allen

UT Recruit Doing Some Recruiting of His Own

Audio: Interview with Tray Allen

Texas commit shows leadership skills already

UT Signing Day Bio: A consensus first-team prep All-America selection on the offensive line as a senior … tabbed first-team All-America by Parade Magazine … tabbed the top lineman on the Parade All-American team … also earned first-team All-America honors from USA Today … participated in the 2007 U.S. Army All-America Game … was a member of ESPN's top 150 national prospects … a three-year starter on both sides of the ball … has played left tackle, nose guard and defensive end … named first-team 5A all-state by The Associated Press and the Texas Sports Writers Association as a senior … also a first-team all-district 7-5A selection … led South Grand Prairie to a 10-2 record and a 7-5A District Championship … part of a line that led South Grand Prairie to an average of 379.0 total yards per game and 207.8 rushing yards per game … helped lead team to a victory over Arlington Bowie in the 5A Division I playoffs … played on both sides of the ball versus Euless Trinity and recorded six tackles … as a junior, helped the Warriors average 349.2 total yards per game and 238.5 rushing yards per game en route to a 10-2 record and a bi-District Championship … also a three-year letterwinner in basketball and played baseball as a freshman … participates in a mentoring program at area elementary schools … enjoys listening to music … full name is Davon A. Allen … born 9/7/88 in Dallas.



All photos: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

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