Coach calls signee Josh Allen a 'lockdown corner'

In street clothes, Vanderbilt cornerback signee Josh Allen barely looks the part of a Southeastern Conference football player-- but Roswell head coach Tim McFarlin assured Commodore fans that those concerned about his size need not be. <i>Fourth in a series of follow-up reports on National Signing Day.</i>

Ina Allen, the mother of Roswell High School cornerback signee Josh Allen, is a deeply religious woman, outspoken in her Christian convictions. On Feb. 4, swelling with pride as she watched her son sign a letter-of-intent to continue his education at Vanderbilt University, Mrs. Allen couldn't help but think of a favorite scripture...

"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." (Philippians 1:6)

Few things are certainties in the world of recruiting... but it's safe to say that if the 5-9, 170-pound all purpose athlete's college career is anything like his high school career, Vanderbilt fans are going to be very happy and excited at the end of four years.


In many parts of the country, National Signing Day has almost evolved into a national holiday. As prep football stars pause to affix their names to scholarship papers at high schools across the country, the world seems to stop.

On Feb. 4, Allen was one of three Roswell High School seniors to sign letters of intent, and for about an hour all high school activities ceased in one end of the Media Center. Photographers from the local newspapers were present to preserve the moment for posterity. Parents beamed, coaches directed traffic for the requisite line-up photos and interviews, and even the school librarians took time out to watch the festivities.

The soft-spoken Allen, dressed to the nines in a suit and tie that perfectly matched the black Vanderbilt logo ball cap he had picked just for this occasion, said the excitement of the moment was the overriding emotion.

"I went up there for football camp last summer," Allen said. "They offered me a scholarship in October."

It didn't take him long to make up his mind.

"[Vanderbilt]'s one of the best academic schools around and plus, you get to play in the SEC."

Allen was one of two cornerback prospects to sign with Vandy on signing day (the other was Jared Fagan of Waldorf, Md.). In street clothes, Allen barely looks the part of a Southeastern Conference football player-- but Roswell head coach Tim McFarlin assured Commodore fans that those concerned about his size need not be.

"Some people might be a little surprised that an SEC school would take a kid with that kind of [smallish] size, but his speed and ability to play a football game is what got him a scholarship," McFarlin said.

"You hear people talking about 4.4, 4.5, 4.6 speed, but really and truly, there aren't that many true 4.4 kids. Josh runs in the 4.4 range-- he can go, let me tell you.

"I can't tell you how many opposing coaches that I've talked to after we've played them, just shake their heads. When they line up and play against him, they've practiced all week for a guy like Josh, but you just can't simulate that kind of speed.

"He made people miss. Even in games that we lost this year, I'd go back and look, and every time I'd look, Josh did things with the ball that were just pretty unbelievable."

Ole Miss, and several other Division I-A programs were also interested in Allen, and didn't necessarily let up on recruiting him after he publicly committed to Vanderbilt, Allen said.

Allen plans to room with fellow Vandy signee and Roswell-Centennial wide receiver Bryant Anderson, who also inked Feb. 4 with the Commodores. The two have known each other since fifth grade, and have had a friendly rivalry going for a number of years in several sports.

"Our team played his team in basketball last night," says Allen.

Who won?

"They did," he says with a frown. "But we beat 'em in football [in the last game of the year], and kept them out of the playoffs."

The versatile Allen, who plays point guard in basketball for the Hornets, was a jack-of-all-trades in football. Realizing the weapon he had with Allen's electrifying speed, McFarlin lined up Allen at multiple positions on offense and special teams in addition to cornerback on defense. He proved durable too-- in three years of varsity football, Allen only missed two games with an injury.

As an offensive back, Allen averaged 100 yards per game and a little less than 7 yards per carry his senior year. Nonetheless, asked where he would position Allen if he were a college coach, however, McFarlin's answer was immediate.

"I'd put him in the secondary," he said. "He's a prototypical cover corner guy at the Division I level. Josh is the kind of guy that you can line up on a receiver, lock him up in man coverage and know that he's going to take care of business."

Off the field, Allen has a number of intangible attributes that Vanderbilt liked in addition to his football ability, McFarlin said.

"He's a quiet young man," McFarlin said. "He led by example. Josh has earned this today. He's well deserving."

Hobbies? He likes to play the piano, and occasionally do a little fishing.

"It's also worth noting that it was important to Josh to choose a great academic school. It's about more than just football for Josh. He's looking forward to the next four years in football, but he's also looking beyond that."

McFarlin, who sent offensive lineman Merritt Kirchoffer to Vanderbilt in the previous year's recruiting class, jokes that he is pretty much on a first-name basis these days with several members of Vanderbilt's coaching staff.

"Yeah, we've been fortunate to have some kids going up there," McFarlin said. "I know I couldn't have gone to school there-- it's too tough for me!

"But I like the coaching staff up there a lot-- Coach [Bobby] Johnson, and Ted Cain, who recruits this area. They already had a foot in the door, because we had a good relationship with Furman when they were there. And they've done a great job at Vanderbilt." Top Stories