- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
Tailback Mark Allen (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) became the first member of Penn State's 2014 recruiting class Monday night, and he recently talked to NittanyNation at length about his commitment and upcoming visit.
The Nittany Lions were the first to offer the 5-foot-7, 185-pound prospect -- and the PSU fan said that was the offer he wanted most. He committed on the spot Monday night, and he said that day is now permanently etched into his memory.
NittanyNation: So what was Tuesday like at school? Was your Penn State commitment still kind of a secret, or did everybody know by then?
Mark Allen: Oh, everybody knows. I got a lot of congratulations from teachers and friends and other people I didn't even know. Tuesday was nice, but I believe Monday's one of those days I'm going to remember for the rest of my life. It was my first offer and me committing to a college.
NN: How did you find out about the offer? Can you take me through what that experience was like?
MA: It was actually during school. I was in one of my classes, and [DeMatha] Coach [Elijah] Brooks told me to come to the office. He was like, 'A reporter wants to talk to you,' but there was no reporter. He tried to call Coach [Bill] O'Brien, but he didn't answer. So Coach Brooks was like, 'I can't hold it in any longer. You got an offer.' And I was like 'Where? PSU?' And he said yeah, PSU.
I went crazy. I was just kind of like really happy, jumping around. That was my first offer, and it came from a school I really wanted to go to. I was overwhelmed. I tried not to yell, but I was just so happy, smiling and jumping around. ... Coach [Larry] Johnson said he would talk to us at 4 o'clock, so my dad came up to the school and we waited. Coach O'Brien explained what he liked about me, and I told him what I liked about the school, and I committed.
NN: What did O'Brien tell you he liked about you?
MA: Well, with Coach O'Brien coming from the New England Patriots, he said I reminded him of one of his players. I reminded him of Danny Woodhead. It's like, wow, I'm being compared to someone who's made the pros -- and he's saying I look exactly like him.
NN: What did you like about Penn State; how did you become a PSU fan?
MA: I've probably been following them for about four or five years. I was just watching college football on TV, and I liked how Penn State ran the ball a lot. I was like why not go there so I can get the ball a lot? I liked the way Evan Royster ran, too.
The facilities and the atmosphere are nice. ... I would love to go to a bowl game but at, at the end of it, I'm trying to make the league -- and there are NFL coaches there.
NN: When did Larry Johnson visit your school, and what other schools have been recruiting you?
MA: He came to my practice last Thursday. I really tried not to pay attention to it; I just paid attention to practice. I was hoping there would be an offer, and it came a week later.
Maryland and UNC -- they've been coming at me, but they haven't pulled the trigger like Penn State. Most schools are too caught up with the 'size matters' thing -- 'Oh, you're too short' and stuff like that.
NN: What's the best thing about being committed this early?
MA: Well, it's nice to know my parents don't have to play for college no more. And it's nice -- no more reporters will be asking me about, 'Oh do you have any offers?' and me saying no. That just hurt in my body so much, but I'm Penn State all the way now.
NN: Have you been to a Penn State game yet?
MA: I'm going to the Wisconsin game, but I haven't been to one yet. It'll be my first time. Other than camp over the summer, it'll be my first time up there. I'm looking forward to seeing the stadium, how everyone says how wild it is for the home games. That's what I'm really looking forward to.
4dJosh Moyer and Tom VanHaaren