Monday, December 04, 2006

AA 2 ND | by Pat

Great news greeted Irish fans late last week as Florida running back Armando Allen committed to Notre Dame, becoming the 12th member of the Class of 2007. At a press conference held to honor his selection to the U.S. Army All-American game, Allen announced his pledge to play ball for Charlie under the Golden Dome. You can watch video of his announcement here. According to Allen, it was his latest visit to ND that won him over.

"All this week I had coaches come to my house to talk to me," Allen told the Miami Herald at the press conference he held to announce his intentions. "But when I took my visit to Notre Dame, I knew it was the right choice for me.

"I liked the way the coaches were very honest with me about what my situation would be and I think I can get a good education there."
Speaking of education, Allen will be an early enrollee -- joining Jimmy Clausen and Gary Gray-- so he will enroll at ND in January and participate in spring practice.

What's so interesting and exciting about landing Allen is that ND was able to reach down into Miami and pluck a speedy skill player away from the Big 3 (UF, FSU, Miami). Getting Sam Young out of Florida was big news last year, but getting a running back coveted by all of the in-state powers is even more of a bellwether of how ND recruiting has shifted lately.

Just about every program in the country offered Armando and one of the big reasons why is his speed. ND fans have been looking for that home run hitter at running back for a few years now and Allen has all the makings of a very viable candidate. He burst onto the national recruiting scene the summer before his junior year when the 5'9, 180-pounder showed up at the Miami Nike camp and clocked the fastest 40 time in the camp. I'm not one to take recruiting 40 times as gospel, but when a kid is the fastest player at a camp that has collected some of the best talent in Miami, FL, I'd say that is pretty impressive.

Not finished there, Allen went to the junior combine held in San Antonio during the weekend of the U.S. Army All-American game. Once again, Allen posted the fastest 40 time out of 550 campers. He was also the only player there who clocked under 4.4 seconds. A few months after the January combine, Allen won the Florida 4A Track State Championship in the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 13.82, making up for a second place finish as a sophomore. Three different events filled with very talented and fast athletes and Allen was the fastest at each one. Not too shabby. Combine that speed with excellent balance and great hands and it shouldn't be surprising that Allen was named 1st Team All-Area and 2nd Team All-State at running back as a junior.

Allen's speed is a little more pedestrian for the time being as he's currently hobbled by a broken leg that knocked him out of football for his entire senior season. He expects to make a full recovery and it certainly doesn't hurt that he'll be able to finish up his rehab under the watchful eye of ND's sports trainers this spring semester. I don't think anyone is sure if he'll be back at 100% for the Blue-Gold game, but hopefully he'll be able to get a few carries and show his stuff.

Honestly, I'm pretty excited about this. Not just for the fact that Weis out-recruited guys like Urban Meyer right in their home state, but for the fact that Allen has the speed and other assorted RB skills (balance, vision, hands) not seen in an Irish recruit in probably 10 years, save Julius Jones perhaps. Of course potential only gets a player so far, but Allen's commitment is a big one for ND and the exciting future of the Irish football program. If you want to check out his highlight reel, here's the downloadable higher-resolution version and here's the choppy, instant gratification youtube version. Enjoy.