For new Coug, leaving home brings big emotion

The days are starting to pass quickly now. In less than a month, touted linebacker Jeremiah Allison will be leaving home in Los Angeles to start his college career at Washington State. That's a big step for anyone, but for Allison it's more complicated -- and far more emotional.

Every day for the last five months, no matter the sports schedule or homework load, he has spent time at his mom's bedside. The thought of leaving her, even if it's for something she desperately wanted for him, is not going to be easy.

"Oh man, my mom is everything," Allison told the other day. "She's my rock -- my soul. She has really molded me into the individual I am today."


Class: 2012
Position: OLB
Height/weight: 6-1/210
Scout rating: Three stars
Scout strengths: Agility, athleticism, tackling technique

For more on Allison, including Mike Leach's thoughts on his new recruit, click here and join the Scout community.

Lucille Allison hasn't spoken since December, when a heart attack silenced the once-vibrant woman. She is in a convalescent home and doctors say the oxygen deprivation she suffered is irreversible. Jeremiah sits with her every day. The straight-A student from Dorsey High reads her Bible passages and talks about what's going on in his life.

She was in a coma when Jeremiah first made his mom's condition widely public, but that's not necessarily where she is today. "Honestly, I can't gauge, but she is no longer just laying there with her eyes closed," he said.

Somewhere between June 18 and 21 –- he's still determining the exact date with his two siblings and tight-knit extended family –- he will look into those eyes and tell her he is heading off to Washington State to fulfill their joint dream of a college education and a way out of a tough neighborhood.

"It's new to me," Allison said about the thought of leaving his mother. "My family is really, really tight but it's what my family wants so I have to better myself to better my future."

Lucille and Jeremiah in happier times.

The distance between the Pullman, Wash., campus and south central Los Angeles will not alter Allison's routine of speaking to Lucille each day. Whether it's over Skype or with the telephone placed next to her ear, he will continue to try to connect with the woman who kept him safe while growing up surrounded by gang violence.

Despite a grim long-term prognosis from doctors, Allison said his mom has shown signs of progress in just the past few weeks.

"It's a slow process but there are signs of improvement every day," he said. "Actually on Mother's Day my sister brought down my nephew ... mom got really excited and rose up and tried to talk."

Allison will arrive in Pullman for summer classes and voluntary football workouts as one of the most coveted members of Mike Leach's first Cougar recruiting class. Rated by as one of top 40 outside linebacking prospects in the nation in the 2012 recruiting cycle, he is considered a top-flight pass rusher (63 career sacks) with the wheels to get into coverage. Besides WSU, he had scholarship offers from UCLA, Arizona, Boise State and others.

He plans to room with classmate Austin Apodaca. Allison said the quarterback from Longmont, Colo., was among the first to reach out to him when news of Lucille's condition went public. Their ensuing friendship has helped him through an emotionally draining time.

"Basically when I was going through my situation and all that he was the one who hit me up on Facebook and sent his condolences and blessing towards me," Allison said.

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The 6-1, 215-pound Allison said his relationship with WSU's coaching staff –- and the family atmosphere of Pullman -- made his decision to become a Cougar that much easier. He talks every week with outside linebackers coach Jeff Choate and has connected with defensive coordinator Mike Breske.

With the departure of C.J. Mizell and the uncertain future of Sekope Kaufusi, the wide-open competition for playing time at linebacker gives Allison a shot to contribute right away.

"I've been studying like a madman trying to learn the workings of the defense," he said. "When I come in I can hit the ground running because I have a shot at early playing time."

Allison credits his mother with molding him into someone who values the importance of academics and athletics, in that order, and said he has had no choice but to put his faith first while he prays for an unlikely recovery for his mom.

"God has really shown me miracles throughout this whole process and I'm just thankful," he said. "He really gave me the strength to be able to talk about it."

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