Tariq Allen's name just kept coming up.
Inside Texas has been criss-crossing this great state talking with the Texas commits for 2009, who have already gotten to know each other quite well. When asked about who has stood out to them in the class, a name that has invariably been mentioned by most recruits is that of the Irving MacArthur linebacker.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, given the leadership role that he's naturally taken to on his high school squad. As a junior, Allen was selected by his teammates as a team captain and was the only junior to be voted as one.
“You may be able to fool some people, but you can't fool your teammates because your teammates know you best,” said MacArthur head coach Brian Basil.
Allen started as a sophomore and a junior at MacArthur and told IT that he's earned that respect.
“I feel my team has a lot of respect for me. If anything goes wrong, they look to me to solve it, or if we need a big play on the field, they look to me to make that play. I think it's mainly respect and the fact that they know I'm a good player,” said Allen.
Allen starts at middle linebacker for MacArthur and is essentially the general of the defense, putting players in their place and coordinating actions on the field.
“We've put a lot on him with the position he plays,” said Basil. “We do ask that guy to do a lot and he's handled all of it.”
The respect that Allen gains from his teammates has already begun to translate to the Texas Class of 2009. Allen made sure when he met up with most of the members of the class at the Longhorns' Orange-White Game that he got to know everyone, including some guys who aren't even commits...but will be if Allen has anything to do with it.
“We all went to the spring game, we all hung out with each other,” said Allen. “Devon Kennard, he's not committed but we hung out with him, Marcus Davis, Eryon Barnett, Kyle Kriegel, Dominique Jones, Garrett Gilbert, all of us, basically. We all hung out, traded numbers. We keep in touch to this day.”
Allen plans on keeping in touch with Kennard, a five-star player UT is recruiting, and working on getting the defensive end down to Austin.
The 18 players already committed for 2009 make up a talented class, for sure, but with high talent comes high expectations. Allen says they're ready for it.
“They are comparing us to (the 2002) class,” said Allen. “We're not there yet, but we have the added pressure of being like that class that brought them a National Championship. We are embracing it.”
Allen said it may take a while, but promises those expectations will be fulfilled.
“I know as a team we're always going to be good, but for our class it's not going to take off right away for all of us, but probably sophomore, junior, senior year we'll be up to that class, that 2002 class. I'm confident in it.”
The MacArthur middle-backer has also embraced his future school. Initially in recruiting, Allen knew very little about UT, but once Mack Brown and the Texas coaching staff got him down for a junior day visit, his decision was essentially made. However, the commitment took a while because he wanted to be prudent.
“I just fell in love with (Texas), basically,” said Allen. “I wanted to commit that day. I talked with my parents and they said I needed to take my time, weigh my options out, stuff like that. I went home and took about three weeks, talked with my parents about it, called coach Brown, I think March 4th is the exact date, and told him the good news.”
Allen said what impressed him most was the honesty of the Texas coaching staff.
“The thing I like about the coaches the most is they're honest,” said Allen. “They'll tell you the straight up facts. They won't go around any corners or go around any bushes. They'll tell you the straight facts.”
The closest bond he's formed is with his future position coach and coordinator, Will Muschamp. To say that the former Auburn DC is fiery may be an understatement, but Allen likes that in a coach.
“The thing I like about Coach Muschamp the most is he's got that fire in him,” said Allen. “I don't like a push-over coach that won't yell or anything like that. I like a coach that will be your biggest critic, who's not afraid to get on your behind if you're messing up, but will be your best friend if you're doing good.”
However, what Allen is most fired up about is how aggressive Muschamp has told him the defense will be. There is nothing that Allen enjoys more than getting a big sack.
“I love blitzing,” said Allen. “I love getting back there and sacking the quarterback.”
Basil told IT that he sends Allen on a blitz as often as he can because of his speed and that aggressive attitude. It's also because when Allen is blitzing, the word 'mercy' apparently leaves his vocabulary.
“Basically, I'm going to do everything I can to get to that quarterback and hurt him,” said Allen, with a smile. “I'm ruthless when I blitz.”
Basil, however, said that Allen has also found a balance in his attitude, which is important given the dichotomy of the sport.
“There's a schizophrenic nature to football,” said Basil. “When you're on the field, you want them to be tough and mean and aggressive and have a swagger about them and then off the field you want them to be gentlemen and polite and doing things right. He handles that.”
That combination has produced the football player that is Tariq Allen, a football player who's already emerging as leader for the Class of 2009.
Members Only Info on Tariq Allen:
Texas linebacker commit Tariq Allen knew very little about UT when the recruiting process started, so how did Texas find him and get him to come down for a junior day visit? Plus, now that Texas does have him, how will the Horns use him in Will Muschamp's defense? Also, what did Devon Kennard say to Allen when Allen started recruiting him for UT? -- Members Only: In-Depth with Tariq Allen
Watch Allen's Junior Highlights: