Mike Allen didn’t need to visit Tennessee for its Junior Day last weekend to get to know Knoxville, Tenn. He lived in the area from 2009-12.
Now, the defensive end from Lanier High School (Buford, Ga.) lives just a few miles from Georgia’s campus. He has several scholarship offers, including ones from the Bulldogs, Tennessee, Florida State and Alabama. Clearly, his stock is on the rise. Will his former home play a part in his recruitment?
“It’s not really a big deal, but I know local spots so it makes it easier to get around,” Allen said of how once living in Knoxville could affect his decision.
Despite his Tennessee roots, Allen has to get to know the Vols’ coaching staff just like any other school. They’ve changed considerably since he was in middle school. Allen was able to take a major step in getting to know the Vols last weekend when he visited Tennessee for its Junior Day. Allen said he saw more of Tennessee’s soft side as opposed to visiting campus during a game or summer camp.
“It’s a little bit more of a fun environment because you don’t really think of Coach (Butch) Jones as a nice guy over there laughing,” Allen said. “It’s all football (most of the time). It’s good to see him in his calm state.”
When Allen was able to speak with the calmer Jones, the message was clear.
“They said that 2017 is a class for linemen,” Allen said. “That’s what they need.”
Allen said his recruitment isn’t just about football. He said he wants to be able to relate to his coaches. So far, he’s built a significant bond with the Vols.
“It’s pretty good,” said Allen, who is the No. 23 weakside defensive end in the nation and the No. 36 overall prospect in Georgia. “Since we first started talking last summer, it’s gotten good.”
Allen said he has no current favorites among his suitors. He said he relies on family and other prospects to navigate the recruiting process. Former defensive tackle teammate Derrick Brown, who signed with Auburn, is a frequent mentor.
“He talks to me a lot,” Allen said. “He’s the main one — as a recruit — that talks to me (about recruiting). Mainly, it’s parents and a few coaches.”
Brown’s advice is simple.
“Soak it in and don’t let it overwhelm you,” Allen said.
Brown was known for playing his cards close to the vest. He rarely tipped his hand until he chose the Tigers on National Signing Day. Allen doesn’t appear intent on following that game plan.
“No, with me it’s really when it feels right,” the 6-foot-6, 236-pound prospect said. “Whenever it feels right is when I’ll do it.”
Allen said he plans to return to Tennessee to see a spring practice.
“I like the family bond they have,” he said. “It’s very good. It’s rare that you see one as good as Tennessee has. Walking in in here with the way they greet you, it’s like they want you to be at home.”
In some ways, Allen already is back home.
All rankings are from the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.