Mike Riley is batting 1.000 in Nebraska so far this cycle as the Huskers finally landed its first in-state recruit of the 2017 class in Austin Allen. Allen is the only in-state prospect to receive a Nebraska offer so far and his commitment gives Nebraska yet another recruiter for a stacked spring game weekend.
Here is Hail Varsity’s official profile on Nebraska’s newest, and tallest, tight end.
Who Else Was Interested
Nebraska was the first school that offered Allen and it was considered just a matter of time before the talented tight end would be a Cornhusker, but that didn’t stop other schools from trying to steal him away. Allen received offers from Central Florida, Iowa and Iowa State following the Nebraska offer and also received heavy interest from UCLA. Iowa State appeared to be the main competition for Allen’s commitment, as the Cyclones hosted Allen for an unofficial visit while he was in Iowa for an AAU basketball tournament.
Allen measures in at 6-8 and 215 pounds. He has the type of frame that tight end coaches dream about as he has incredibly long arms and broad shoulders that can hold more muscle as he matures. The most appealing part of his frame is his arm length, which gives him a massive catching radius as a receiver. Allen is extremely skinny at this point for a collegiate tight end and he will likely need a redshirt season to add weight to his frame. When Allen is finished filling out I would expect him to measure in at 6-8 and in the 255-260 pound range.
1. His catching radius. Allen has the potential to become a virtually impossible matchup for defenders, as his 6-8 frame and long arms make him a nightmare for opposing defenders to cover. Allen does a solid job of reaching outside of his frame to catch passes with his hands instead of smothering the ball with his chest. Allen also uses his basketball background to his advantage as he is adept at boxing out defenders and outmuscling them for 50-50 balls. Allen’s catching radius will make him a tremendous red-zone threat in the same vein as former UCLA Bruins and Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria.
2. His ability after the catch. When I first heard of Nebraska offering a 6-8 tight end, I was fairly skeptical. Most kids that size don’t have the lateral agility and quickness necessary to be an effective weapon unless they are being used as a fade-route option. I was pleasantly surprised by Allen’s film, as he shows solid run-after-the-catch ability and is able to consistently make the first man miss in the open field. This trait will allow Allen to be more than just a red-zone target, as it will allow him to be used as an intermediate, chain-mover target for Nebraska.
3. His potential. It’s hard not to love Allen’s potential as he has an incredible frame to work with and still hasn’t completely devoted himself to football yet. Allen is a tremendous basketball player for the Aurora Huskies, one that may get some Division I looks, but I believe he made the right decision in choosing football for his future. When Allen truly focuses on football and begins training exclusively as a football player his football performance will improve considerably.
1. His weight. It is easy to understand why Allen is only 215 pounds right now. He is still growing and playing basketball year round, but he will need to bulk up considerably if he wants to see the field for the Huskers. Allen’s weight makes him limited as a tight end, as he cannot be counted on as a run blocker and would have to be used exclusively as a flexed-out, fade-route target in order to be effective. This shouldn’t be a huge issue as long as he uses his redshirt season wisely, but it is the main area of concern for me right now.
2. His run blocking/pad level. Allen is a willing run blocker on film, as he does a decent job of establishing contact and running his feet, but his technique and pad level need work. Allen plays much too high in the run game, allowing defensive linemen to get underneath him and stalemate him far too often. Allen also needs to do a better job of using his long arms to his advantage, as he allows defenders to get inside of his reach and into his chest, allowing them to control the activity. This is an area that can improve over time and will be greatly improved as Allen adds weight and devotes himself to football.
3. His release off the line of scrimmage. Aurora is smart in how they use Allen, as they tend to split him out in the slot on passing downs, allowing him to exploit the height mismatch between him and defensive backs. While this helped Allen catch 41 passes for 507 yards as a junior, it made it tough to get a read on his ability to release from a traditional tight end stance. When Allen did come out of a three point stance, he showed a tendency to rise up at the line of scrimmage, forcing him to play from a less athletic position and giving defenders a bigger target to knock off his preferred route. This is an easily correctable flaw that should improve during Allen’s redshirt year.
Allen isn’t a perfect tight end prospect yet, but his incredible frame and considerable potential were too much for Tavita Thompson and the Nebraska coaching staff to pass up. Allen will definitely need a redshirt season to hit the gym and add weight to his frame, but he could see the field as early as his redshirt freshman season. Allen would immediately give Nebraska a fantastic red-zone target that has the potential to develop into a solid all-around tight end by his junior season. Great job by the Huskers to protect their backyard and bring in a solid in-state prospect.
College Comparison: East Carolina tight end Bryce Williams
Pro Comparison: Former Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria