PSU football recruit wants to make name for himself

In the 1982 Fiesta Bowl, Penn State held USC Heisman Trophy-winnning tailback Marcus Allen, who had already become the first player n NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, to 85 yards on 30 carries in a 26-10 victory.

Allen apparently figured if he couldn’t beat the Nittany Lions, he’d join them when he gave Penn State a verbal commitment earlier this month.

OK, it’s not “that” Marcus Allen. But the junior star from Wise High School in Upper Marlboro, Md., gets stuff like that all the time, and he doesn’t mind sharing his name with a player who went on to be elected to the halls of fame for both college and pro football.

“I hear about my name a lot,” Allen said. “I know he was a very tough player and a great runner.”

The latest incarnation of Marcus Allen is off to a good start to being a big-time player at the next level, too. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, he’s already almost as big as his namesake was when he was winning Super Bowls with the Raiders, but this Allen is making a name for himself as a big hitter on defense instead of a home run hitter on offense.

“He’s a hitter,” said Wise coach DeLawn Parrish, a safety at Wake Forest in his playing days. “He’s tall, long. He’s athletic. He has great agility. He has good hips. He can play a lot of positions. He can play safety, corner. He can come down and play linebacker. He’s still growing into his body. He’s a student of the game. He’s a student of the game. He’s always working to get better. Academically, he makes good decisions. He’s never been in trouble.

“It’s a no-brainer [for a college to offer him a scholarship].”

Parrish doesn’t seem to be dealing in hyperbole, either. The colleges seem to agree. Allen chose Penn State from a list of more than 30 Division I scholarship offers after making 69 tackles, breaking up nine passes, picking off two others and forcing two fumbles for a team than went 14-0 and won a state title.

Georgia Tech, Clemson, Maryland, Pitt and Rutgers were the colleges over which Allen eventually picked Penn State.

“Penn State has a rich tradition,” Allen, who gave Penn State his pledge on May 10, said. “The 15-scholarship limit caused me to speed up my decision.”

It probably didn’t hurt either that Allen already has plenty of friends in the Lion program. He’s one of the latest products to land in University Park from the Prime Xample DB Academy, where he was coached by Roman Morris, father of former Lion cornerback Stephon Morris, and Troy Vincent Sr., whose son is rumored to be close to joining Penn State’s 2014 recruiting class in the coming weeks.

If there wasn’t enough of a name game going on already, Allen also counts Lion running back recruit Mark Allen among his friends.

“Richy Anderson and Jordan Smith are current players I spent time with and consider friends, also,” Allen said.

Allen already has ties within the state, some of them with a big-time running back who doesn’t have the same name.

“Curtis Martin is my godfather. My father is from Pittsburgh, and I have always been a Steeler fan,” Allen said.

In fact, one of his favorite players is a pretty famous former Steeler of the past.

“I love hard hitting pros like Donnie Shell and Jack Tatum and Sean Taylor,” Allen said.

Allen began playing football when he was 6 but he quit the game for four years after getting hit in the face with the ball. That’s when he came back and has been dishing out the hits, instead, ever since.

“This is going to be his third year [starting varsity]. As a freshman, he was a linebacker on our junior varsity. But he was like 5-8. Then, all of a sudden, he came back that summer, and he was 6-1,” Parrish said. “He was always confident. He was used to playing so close to the box. That summer, we got him out of that. We had him do nothing but defensive back drills. He got comfortable playing away from the football. His first game on varsity, he had an interception.”

Family is a big inspiration to Allen. He’s dedicating his senior high school season to Sherrie Allen, the mother of his brother, Shawn, and his sister, Nadia.

“She recently passed away, and she was also like a mother to me. Her passing was hard on my family and will serve as motivation to me to go forward in a strong way,” Allen said. “I’m also thankful for my mother, Latonya Allen, and father, Shawn Allen. They mean everything to me, along with my sister Mariah Allen, who attends Towson University.”