Mark Allen hobbled out of the south tunnel on crutches Saturday. The 2014 Penn State commit, just a few weeks removed from ACL surgery, stared up at the crowd.
He said he knew right then, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he had made the right decision.
"Oh my God, it was great," said the 5-foot-7, 185-pound tailback out of Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic. "I just can't wait to go through that when I'm at Penn State myself. Hearing the music, the crowd -- it's love.
"I'm all the way for Penn State, man. That's the place to be. I'm trying to get my teammates who happen to get an offer there."
Allen, decked out in a black Columbia jacket and a ski mask that hid three-quarters of his face, was surrounded by four junior teammates in their blue-and-red varsity jackets. No fans recognized Allen, but no one could really see him, either.
He peeled his mask off just once for a quick mugshot and playfully held up his hand to wait a few moments. He smoothed his hair and then pulled out some lip balm while balancing on those crutches.
"They told me it was going to snow, and I'm trying not to freeze to death," he said with a laugh.
Assistant coach Charles London told Allen he wouldn't yank his scholarship because of the injury, and 2013 commit Adam Breneman (Camp Hill, Pa./Cedar Cliff) -- who also suffered a torn ACL -- chatted with the running back for a few minutes. Allen said everyone was supportive, and he plans to rehab and improve his ability as soon as possible.
He'll be able to get off those crutches by Dec. 15. He hopes to run about a month-and-a-half after that, and he plans to lift 4-5 days a week by mid-February. Allen will be ready to go by Week 1 of his senior season, and he said he'll likely envision himself in a blue-and-white uniform as further motivation.
"Yeah, I'm going to use that a lot," he said. "I'm going to try to work hard so I can get on as a freshman and play ball. I just can't wait to get off these crutches. I'm telling you, it's the worst. I'm just going to fight through it and feel better."
The 5-foot-7, 185-pound tailback said he first felt a bond with this staff over the summer when he attended a camp. He wasn't on many teams' recruiting radars, and he doubted Penn State had any idea who he was, but London and the staff still seemed to care.
They pulled him aside, offered him some tips and treated him like a five-star recruit. Once they saw how quick he was, Bill O'Brien ushered him into his office -- and that's when his Penn State recruitment took off.
"What I love most is the coaches," Allen said. "They give off this vibe; they show their recruits love."
Allen said it was difficult to pinpoint his favorite part of his visit. He had never before strolled the sidelines of Beaver Stadium, and he he was surprised at just how different it was from other games -- such as Maryland -- that he attended.
He smiled at the mascot when it rubbed its ears and led the "We are ... Penn State" chants. He was surprised at all the tailgaters. And he was even more shocked at just how loud the crowd could get.
"Oh man, I can tell they really love football down in Pennsylvania," he said. "Everybody was screaming, yelling, everything. People know everybody on the team there. It's big-time ball; it's going to be cool to play in front of."