It has been an interesting three years for tight end Julian Allen. Allen, a JUCO transfer from Lackawanna Community College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is one of two newly appointed tight ends to a USM team that has not had a true tight end in Monken’s tenure.
However, Julian Allen just is not your typical tight end; he is a special player. In high school, Allen played defensive end and wide receiver for Washington Township High School in New Jersey and was then offered a scholarship by Lackawanna.
While at Lackawanna, Allen built a name for himself and quickly became one of the most sought after JUCO tight end prospects, being named the seventh-ranked tight end by 247 Sports and the number four by Rivals.
Thanks to his pass catch- ing ability as a tight end, Allen quickly moved up recruiting boards and also has more range than most tight ends. Al- len can also move out and play some wide receiver, while also being a force blocking on the perimeter.
All of these abilities earned Allen a total of 13 scholar- ship offers, including Buffalo, FAU, UAB, Eastern Michigan and South Alabama. Halfway through his sophomore season, he committed to South Alabama and began drawing interest from Mississippi State.
Despite having grown close with ex-South Alabama offen- sive coordinator and former Southern Miss coach Robert
Matthews, Allen withdrew his commitment to the Jaguars.
“He told me that it was not the place for me,” Allen said. “Even he told me he did not want me to go to South Ala- bama and said this (USM) was a wonderful place. He wanted me to come here to Southern Miss.”
Allen said despite what his recruiter said, he still would have gone to South Alabama out of loyalty, but during the season, Matthews was fired by South Alabama and that did not sit well with Allen.
“Once he left, it was just a huge turnoff for me,” Allen said. “I did not really know who was coming in and I was just uncomfortable.”
Allen then took his visit to Mississippi State before he went to Southern Miss, but he knew right away he wanted to be a part of the Golden Eagles.
“(I) just felt the passion here,” Allen said. “When I heard all the coaches speak about how this program used to be, it just made me want to be a part of it.”
The Golden Eagles then offered Allen while Mississippi State hesitated. Unfortunately for Allen, there would be a ma- jor hurdle coming. During week five of his sophomore season, the team had a road game that week and as Allen got off the bus and bent down to pick up his travel bag, he found he could not even lift it. He woke up the next morning and could not even get out of bed.
“There was really no specific hit and I can’t even remember if there was a specific game that it happened,” Allen said. “I had just had back pain and
kept fighting through it and fighting through it and it just progressed.”
Allen was diagnosed a week later with a herniated disk in his back that would require surgery. As soon as teams found this out, Allen found most of his scholarship offers were being taken off the table.
But there was one team and one man that stuck by his word and kept a scholarship open for Allen. Allen later found out that nearly all 13 of the scholar- ship offers he had received his sophomore year were pulled off the table, all because of his injury.
But Monken did something that has been his staple since he has been at USM. He stayed loyal to Allen when everyone else was turning him away. Monken’s ability to welcome rejected players with open arms is what stood out to Allen, and he says it is what made him pick USM.
“To know that (Monken) stuck with me and kept his word made me want to come and be a part of this program,” Allen said.
Allen said not only was loy- alty one of his biggest factors in choosing Southern Miss, but he also values loyalty in general, very highly. Now on the team and getting first team reps, Allen is a major playmaker for USM in the passing game and has become one of Mullens’ and Matthews’ go-to targets on third down.
Monken’s loyalty has not only earned respect with Allen, but respect with other players as well. That loyalty may have landed Southern Miss one of the best tight ends in Confer- ence USA.