Keith Williams landed one of his most impressive wide receiver recruits to date Saturday morning, as Manuel Allen committed to Nebraska via Twitter.
Allen, a Corona, California, native, became Nebraska’s second wide receiver commitment in the 2018 class, joining Los Angeles native Eric Fuller. Allen currently attends traditional California powerhouse Centennial High School, where he helped lead the Huskies to an 11-2 record in 2016.
Allen is currently listed as a 4-star recruit with a 92.7 rating on Hail Varsity’s recruiting composite.
Who Else Was Interested
Allen emerged as one of the top 2018 receiver prospects on the West Coast following an impressive junior season at Centennial High School, eventually landing 19 FBS offers prior to his commitment to Nebraska. Of those 19 offers, the primary teams to emerge for Allen were Nebraska, USC, UCLA, Oregon and Ole Miss. Allen had previously committed to USC in January but he backed off of his pledge to the Trojans a month later. Nebraska quickly emerge as one of his top choices.
Many expected Allen to commit to Nebraska over the spring game weekend due to his longstanding connection with Williams and current Husker Keyshawn Johnson Jr. Allen did just that, committing to Nebraska prior to the spring game’s kickoff.
Allen measures in at 6-2 and 170 pounds. Allen has an extremely lean and athletic frame, carrying very little bad weight on him at this point. Allen will need to spend some time in the weight room to bulk up, as he is still a bit too thin to be consistently effective in the Big Ten. He has plenty of room to add weight to his frame, so this should not be a problem for him once he gets into Nebraska’s lifting program. When Allen is finished filling out, I would expect him to measure in at 6-2 and in the 190-pound range.
1. His straight line speed. Allen brings the blazing speed that Nebraska has been missing from their outside receivers since Kenny Bell graduated and he is a legitimate 4.5 40-time player that can take the top off of a defense. Allen is a long-strider that is rarely, if ever, caught from behind and he combines that straight line speed with impressive short area quickness that allows him to get early separation that he doesn’t give up. Allen’s speed will be a welcome addition to Nebraska, as the Huskers don’t currently have a player that has his combination of speed and size.
2. His physicality. Allen was a standout on both sides of the ball for Centennial. On defense, he showed a nasty streak that will serve him well at receiver for the Huskers. Allen plays with a nasty edge on the field and is more than willing to go across the middle and take a hit in order to catch a pass. He also shows violent hands when going against press coverage, as he doesn’t shy away from physical coverage despite his slight build. Allen is already solid in this area, but he should only get better as he continues to add weight and strength in Lincoln.
3. His route running. Centennial is one of the top high school programs in the country, so it is no surprise that Allen is one of the more polished wide receivers in the country this year. Allen is very disciplined in his route running and shows tremendous feet and is able to break in and out of cuts without losing speed. Danny Langsdorf runs a complex offensive scheme that asks receivers to be versatile and disciplined in their routes, which bodes well for Allen’s chances of seeing the field early in 2018.
4. His competitiveness/concentration on contested passes. The difference between good and great receivers is the ability to consistently win the battles for contested passes and Allen is already very skilled in this area. Allen does a tremendous job of getting himself into position for the ball and timing his leap in order to high point the football. This was on full display in Allen’s impressive performance against IMG Academy in 2016. Allen caught 8 passes for 82 yards against the best team in the nation and made some truly incredible catches to keep Centennial in the game.
1. His size. This is probably the only question mark in Allen’s game right now, as he needs to add weight in order to consistently be effective in the Big Ten. I’d like to see Allen add at least 10 pounds to his frame to make him a more powerful and durable receiver at the collegiate level. Allen has the frame to add this weight no problem, and his status as an early enrollee will help him get a jump in Nebraska’s training program next winter.
2. Keeping his concentration on the easy passes. Allen is fantastic when going after contested passes and shows tremendous concentration and timing to beat defensive backs. Now he needs to continue working on keeping that concentration when reeling in the easy passes. It doesn’t happen often, but there are times that Allen takes his eye off the ball and looks downfield instead of securing the ball first. This leads to him dropping some catch-able passes.
Impressive work by Williams, as he now holds commitments from two of his top three wide receiver targets in the 2018 class. Landing Allen gives Nebraska a true outside deep threat that adds a new dimension to Nebraska’s passing offense in 2018. Watch for Allen’s speed to get him on the field early in 2018, joining Fuller, Tyjon Lindsey, Stanley Morgan, and J.D. Spielman to give Nebraska a truly explosive receiving corps.
Landing Allen also allows Williams to focus the remainder of his efforts on IMG Adamey wide receiver Joshua Moore, who Nebraska is sitting in tremendous position with following the spring game.
College Comparison: Miami (FL) Stacy Coley
Pro Comparison: Young version of Falcons Wide Receiver Roddy White