RIVER RIDGE, La. — This is not a modern day version of “The Blindside.”
No, this is Willie Allen’s life.
Allen, a 6-foot-7, 310-pound offensive tackle, committed to LSU on Thursday morning. Two people in attendance were already aware of Allen’s decision.
Of course, that was his Mom and Dad.
Allen’s parents, Jerry and Lindsi Godfrey, are also his guardians. They brought a then-sophomore Allen into their home in 2013 after issues at home became apparent at school.
Three and a half years later, they were the reason Allen chose to attend LSU over other nationally renowned football programs across the nation.
“I’ve been to LSU numerous times, so my official visit didn’t make or break my decision,” Allen told SEC Country. “LSU — it’s home. I felt comfortable. It’s 45 minutes away from home, and it felt like it was the right decision.”
Allen moved in with the Godfreys during his sophomore year at John Curtis Christian School when Jerry, a coach on the football staff, became aware that the young football standout was routinely late to school.
Allen’s uncle had enrolled him at Curtis, but his uncle was no longer around. Allen was living on a sofa in a two-bedroom apartment in New Orleans with two other siblings and was forced to take multiple buses and the streetcar to school every day.
“Jerry kept asking why he was late,” Lindsi explained. “Allen told him if one bus is late or the streetcar is late, then he’s going to late. He can’t help it. Something else happened, so Jerry said a couch was no place for a (then) 6-foot-5 guy. And there’s where it began.”
This wasn’t the first time the Godfreys brought a child in need into their household.
In 2009, four years after Hurricane Katrina hit, the Godfreys did the same for Kenny Cain.
Cain, a Metairie, La., native, also played football at Curtis and eventually moved on to play football at TCU.
The Godfreys were familiar with the process, but admitted that it’s never an easy thing to deal with.
“Willie isn’t the first child we’ve had in our house,” Lindsi said. “It’s always an adjustment to bring someone you don’t know in and then have to get to know them. You have to go through that whole process, and it’s always different.”
It’s different when Allen isn’t with the Godfreys, which is why the nation’s No. 15 offensive tackle elected to stay close to home and attend LSU next fall instead of TCU or a host of other SEC programs.
TCU was a nine-hour trek from New Orleans, and it was a similar story for UGA, which in addition to a plane ride was an hour-and-a-half car ride to the Athens, Ga., campus.
Allen wanted to be close to his family … both of his families.
Allen has nine siblings on his mom’s side and even more on his dad’s side. Many of them have their own children, so Allen wanted to be close by for his nieces and nephews.
He also wanted to be by the Godfreys, who both officially and unofficially consider themselves Allen’s parents.
“His mother is still around and he still talks to her, so I guess you can call us his guardians,” Lindsi explained. “We do make a lot of important decisions for him and we help him the best we can and parent him. He’s still a kid. He needs to have rules and structure. So yeah, it’s more than a guardian. It’s a parent relationship, too, and we love him as if he was our own child. He is our child.”
Allen’s decision to stay close to home is a testament to his character, Curtis coach J.T. Curtis added, and some of the maturity stems from his newfound home.
“Willie has always been a young man with his goals and priorities in the right direction,” his coach said. “That’s a compliment to his family, his mom and Jerry. They’ve encouraged, showed him the importance of some of those decisions. He accepts correction, and that’s an attribute.
“Corrections had to be made at home, but he recognized that for his own best interest … That collective grouping has allowed him to achieve.”