Aug. 3, 2010
By Jon Cooper
There is no shortage of words to describe Anthony Allen — sharp, powerful, innovative, entertaining, breath-taking….
And that’s him seated at a small press appearance surrounded by local media.
Writers who might be short a couple of inches or a catchy quote, know that No. 18 is just what the doctor ordered.
“I can talk my head off,” said the redshirt senior and Tampa, Fla., native during a recent 15-minute session that certainly won’t be his final 15 minutes of fame. “Did [Assistant Athletic Director] Dean [Buchan] tell you why he didn’t take me to the ACC Kickoff? He said he would have had to sit next to me the whole time, there was no telling what I was going to say.”
Talking his head off is a by-product of Allen running his tail off and it’s a trade-off that the Yellow Jackets can live with.
It’s nothing personal. Keeping people laughing and networking in general has always been part of Allen’s personality.
“I’ve been a real outgoing social person my whole life. I was always the new kid in school but I always made friends fast,” he said. “This social networking thing (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), I’m just trying to get out there and put my team out there. We’re right here in Atlanta and we’re often over-shadowed by a lot of stuff going on here. I’m trying to get our name out there. Let everybody know that we’re the ACC champs and we’re coming out to defend our title this year.”
Allen didn’t have to alert anyone that he’ll play a big part in that defense. His 618 rushing yards last season (on 64 carries) were third behind starting B-Back Jonathan Dwyer and quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, both 1,200-yard rushers and made the trio Tech’s most prolific in a season. He also found the end zone six times, also behind only Dwyer and Nesbitt.
Then there’s that gaudy 9.7 yards per carry Allen averaged last season. If you look at the nation’s top 100 rushers last season, no running back approached 9.7 yards per tote.
But that was 2009 and so much has changed heading into 2010. Josh Nesbitt is now Joshua, Dwyer is a Pittsburgh Steeler, and Allen is starting where Dwyer was.
He doesn’t foresee a big learning curve as he moves to his left in the back field.
“Playing in this offense you have to know all the positions because you have to know where your blocks are coming from, who’s doing what,” he said. “So playing primarily A-Back last year is really helping me out playing B-Back this year because I know on certain plays where my blocks are going to be coming from and what to anticipate from my A-Backs.”
Allen is leaner and faster following an off-season that saw his body weight drop from 239 to 225, which he calls his ideal playing weight. The difference is already obvious.
“I feel a lot faster now. In seven-on-sevens I’ve been blowing by guys,” he said with a laugh. “I ain’t gonna say no names, but I’ve been blowing by guys.”
Speed and power will be an important element in his new position.
“Playing B-Back you have to have that mentality between the tackles that you’re going to hit it up in there. You can’t go in soft at all,” he said. “If you’re timid through the hole then the defensive end has a chance to check you, make sure you don’t have the ball and then go out to the quarterback. So you definitely want to hit the hole exploding.”
Allen wants that explosiveness and attack-mentality to carry over to the end of his runs as well.
“I finish runs for the most part attacking people but my leg drive, I like to kill my legs on contact,” he explained. “It was a big emphasis this off-season to driving my legs through everything. I’ve been pushing sleds, I’ve been pulling sleds, I’ve been squatting more, just trying to get my leg power up.”
But bottom line, B-Back, A-Back it doesn’t matter to Allen. Heck, he’ll even play quarterback.
“I’ll play whatever I have to play. I might have to step in at quarterback for a few plays,” he said. “
While Nesbitt can rest easy about possibly losing his spot to Allen, Preseason All-ACC running backs Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech and Montel Harris of Boston College may not be as fortunate.
Not that the slight of Georgia Tech on the list, which named only one Yellow Jacket, center Sean Bedford, bothers him.
“That’s why it’s a preseason All-ACC Team,” he said dismissively. “The one after the season, that’s the one I’m worried about.”
He holds the same sentiment about Tech being picked third in the Coastal Division.
“We’re used to being written off before the season starts,” he said. “We use it as motivation. We aren’t getting any respect. We just have to go and take it.”
Allen is confident that he and Tech will have the final say.
The media pool is counting on him.