Allen ready for next step

If I was signing my name today to go play football at the University of Nebraska, there’s no doubt I would have been counting down the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and yes, even seconds.
I’d be pumped.
For Aurora’s Austin Allen, it’s not that he’s not excited, but more that he’s been so preoccupied to think much about it. Until now, National Signing Day.
The No. 1 prospect in the state, according to many, and the future tight end is expected to be one of 23 or so high school seniors to officially sign on the dotted line today, Feb. 1, to play football in Lincoln.
Right now it’s a good class, but it’s a class that could be great if two, three, or even four players on the fence decide to become Cornhuskers.
Los Angeles cornerbacks Deommodore Lenoir and Greg Johnson, wide receiver Joseph Lewis, Buena Park, Calif., wide receiver Jeremiah Hawkins, Moreno Valley, Calif., wide receiver Bryan Thompson, Pasadena cornerback Elijah Blades, Temecula, Calif., cornerback Michael Onyemaobi, Chula Vista, Calif., running back CJ Verdell, Las Vegas cornerback Tony Wallace and Dallas defensive tackle Damion Daniels are all, believe it or not, still in the mix.
Obviously not all can or will sign with Big Red. But it’s a great indicator that Coach Mike Riley is making inroads with some of the top players in the nation.
As far as Austin is concerned, he originally had to weigh his options whether to play football or basketball at the next level, eventually committing to the Huskers this past spring. He told me the time has gone by fast.
“This being my senior year, time is flying by. It’s been a stress-free year, not thinking about college, so it’s gone by fast in that aspect. It’s been especially stress-free the last 10 months.”
Austin said Husker coaches encourage commitments to try to stay in touch with those players who are still trying to decide where to attend college, but realistically, that’s difficult to do.
“I’m not following recruiting that much because I’m so involved in sports and what not,” he told me. “Not as much as you probably think.”
He is, however, part of an every day group chat of committed future Huskers.
And as far as communication with Nebraska coaches, Austin said recently it’s been an every day or every other day occurence, trying to be sure and secure up spots.
“They are probably doing that with everybody,” he noted. “We just talk about what the future holds, what recruits they’re trying to get, and how basketball is going.”
He also took several unofficial visits to Lincoln’s campus this past fall during game days, to get a feel of the atmosphere and also to interact with the players.
“Visiting on game days is just crazy as you guys know. I’ve sat in meetings, and it’s a lot different than high school. The food is awesome. Game days are unique, and every week it’s different.
“They take us into the locker room during pre-game, to see them get ready to go in to battle, and after a win, they usually bring us back and we get to listen to the coachs’ post-game speeches.”
With Austin’s signing, Aurora sends yet another player off to Lincoln, to that next level. For a small Class B school, that’s amazing.
Allen will officially sign the letter of intent in the Aurora High School gym at 1:45 p.m.
As for me, I’m starting my countdown at 117...as in days until Arkansas State.
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@hamilton.net

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