DeMatha junior tailback Mark Allen received his first full scholarship offer Monday when his coach, Elijah Brooks, handed him the phone and Penn State Coach Bill O’Brien said he wanted Allen to come play for the Nittany Lions.
As it turned out, it was the only offer Allen was hoping for. He immediately accepted and became the first member of Penn State’s 2014 recruiting class.
“This is what Mark had been waiting on, and he decided to let [O’Brien] know he didn’t have to think about it,” Brooks said Tuesday in a telephone interview. Allen “was going to Penn State.”
Brooks said Penn State was one of Allen’s favorite college football programs while the player was growing up. Allen attended a Penn State football camp this summer and, according to Brooks, impressed the Nittany Lions coaching staff with his performance. O’Brien met with Allen at the camp’s conclusion and told the player Penn State’s coaches would monitor how he fared through the first half of the 2012 season.
Through seven games, Allen has recorded roughly 700 rushing yards and roughly 300 receiving yards. That effort drew Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson to one of DeMatha’s practices last week. Johnson reported back to O’Brien, and O’Brien asked Brooks to give him a call Monday.
“I’m extremely happy for Mark,” Brooks said. “I’ve seen him work hard the past couple years, work on a lot of things he needed to. And I’m just really excited that he gets the opportunity to play at such a prestigious program and to play at that level. I think it’s a tremendous honor, and I’m happy for him.”
Penn State’s football program has been in the national spotlight for unflattering reasons for most of the past year. In July, the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions against the Nittany Lions for its role in the sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The penalties included a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, significant scholarship reductions and five years of probation.
Allen “was definitely aware of all the sanctions and everything that had occurred,” Brooks said. “But I think he saw how passionate the coaching staff was, really enjoyed his time there, the facilities, he spent the weekend there. He just saw that it was a great school regardless of what had happened. I don’t think that discouraged him at all.”
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