USM football feature: Julian AllenBy FROM SOUTHERN MISS,
HATTIESBURG – Southern Miss football coach Jay Hopson believes senior tight end Julian Allen will be a big weapon for the Golden Eagle offense in 2017.
“Julian is one of those guys that can do it all,” said Hopson. “Very seldom do you find guys at the H-position that can put their hand on the ground and be true tight ends. He can catch, can run and be physical as Julian weighs about 250 or 260. He’s the guy that gives you the flexibility that you can do anything with him.”
Allen, from Sewell, N.J., starts his third year with Golden Eagles this fall after playing a pair of seasons at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa. The 6-foot-4 tight end redshirted his first season in 2015 with Southern Miss due to injury, but came back in a big way last season.
After opening the year with three catches for 30 yards and an 18-yard touchdown at Kentucky that he caught just inside the pylon and helping his squad come back for a 44-35 victory in Lexington, Kentucky, Allen went on to play in all 13 games (12 starts) and caught 19 passes for 281 yards.
His catch total included a career-best 82-yard grab against Rice and a 52-yard reception against Marshall, both coming at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
But his successes and versatility cannot be measured strictly on his ability to catch passes. He also will do whatever it takes to help this offense be successful, like protecting the quarterback with his blocking or helping find holes for his running backs behind him.
“When my name is called I just try to make a play and help this team to move the chains,” said Allen. “Whether it’s me making a catch or opening holes for Ito (Smith) or Tez (Parks), I just do what I can to help us succeed.”
While practice is in its infancy, he and his offensive teammates continue each day in practice to get better each and every day as they head into the season opener against Kentucky.
“Right now, we are just three days in and we were a little slow today but right now we are just trying to get the offense rolling as a team and get them clicking and on the same page,” said Allen after practice on Monday that was utilized in shoulder pads and shorts. “We weren’t in pads for the first two days so it’s a little different putting pads on and moving full speed with full contact.”
All this effort for Allen and his teammates is centered on just one goal, which is to help the Golden Eagles bring a Conference USA championship back to Hattiesburg for the first time since the 2011 campaign.
“The ultimate goal is to win ball games,” said Allen. “I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win ball games and ultimately bring the conference championship back to Hattiesburg.”
The Golden Eagles open the 2017 season at home on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 3 p.m. against SEC opponent Kentucky.