Growing up, basketball was the sport of choice for junior D'Wayne Allen. Then one day while walking the halls of Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, NC he was approached by head football coach Wayne Inman and asked to give football a try. Allen had never played football up to that point but he agreed. That decision turned out to be a very intelligent one as Allen will likely be one of the nation's top tight end prospects for the class of 2008.
Although he spent his freshman season on the Terry Sanford JV squad, Allen moved up to varsity as a sophomore and responded by hauling in 16 passes for 415 yards and one score. Now at 6-4, 230 pounds, the junior star has emerged as a dominant receiver from his tight end spot, blending tremendous size with speed and athleticism. In 2006 he has recorded 23 catches for 537 yards and one touchdown. On that play he had an impressive 85-yard catch and run where he outran the entire opposing defense for his first score of the season.
Although he gets the lion's share of his snaps on offense, Allen also sees time as a defensive end in certain situations.
"I play a little defensive end," Allen recently told Pack Pride. "I usually play DE whenever we're going up against the bigger teams, but I prefer tight end. I guess because it's the position I've played the most."
Regardless of the position, Allen has become a hot item for college coaches in an age where recruiting seems to target players earlier and earlier in their high school careers. UNC and NC State offered him after their football camps over the summer, but they certainly won't be the last.
"My head coach took me to a Georgia game, and they told me they were going to offer me a scholarship," said Allen. "On September 1st, Florida was blowing up my cell phone with text messages and I've also been getting a lot of stuff from schools like Clemson, Ole Miss and Wake Forest."
One school that has gotten an early jump on Allen is NC State. The tight end has been a major cog in the Wolfpack offensive system under head coach Chuck Amato and it comes as no surprise that the Pack has made landing Allen a huge priority. The early attention seems to be paying dividends for the State coaching staff.
"I just love the school," said Allen. "The thing that got me there was just the atmosphere with the fans and players. I've been to all the home games this year except for the Florida State game. Coach Amato is a great guy and so is coach Cignetti. I've been talking to him for quite a while. NC State is high on my list, and I like that they're close to home."
Early on, it appeared that the Wolfpack held a sizable advantage and they still appear to be in great position but the attention from several national schools seems to have Allen seriously evaluating all of his college options.
"NC State still sticks out," he said. "Just knowing coach Amato on such a personal level. But these other schools are stepping up. I've never watched a lot of college football so I can't say I have any favorites right now. My decision is going to be based on academics and where I can go in and play and fit in. I'm also looking hard at the depth charts."
As far as academics, Allen says he's not completely sure on what course he'll pursue but he does have one in mind.
"I love math," he said. "I'm serious about my school work, and I'm taking a course in physics and that's a brain-teaser. I think I might want to major in Engineering."
The battle to land Allen will likely be an intense one but for now, it's just in it's infancy. The talented junior says he'll likely make several of his official visits before deciding likely sometime during or after his senior season. Pack Pride will be there to cover his recruitment all the way up to the end.