November 17, 2005

The preacher man

ORCHARD LAKE, Mich. - Dionte Allen says it's his God given talent that makes him a special football player. So it's only fitting the 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback from Orchard Lake St. Mary's has been given the nickname "the preacher" by his teammates.

By the time college coaches are done watching the blue-chip junior prospect, they'll be believers in the preacher, too.

Allen is one of the top junior defensive backs in the Midwest. Some college coaches are whispering he might be the top junior in Michigan for the class of 2007, and there is no question Allen is a rare talent. His 56 tackles and five interceptions show his versatility, and his coach George Porrit thinks he's got the goods physically to be an impact defender in college.

"His change of direction is really good," Porrit said. "He also has great leadership qualities. He presses most people in coverage, and he has a real knack for going up and getting the ball. He's a tough kid and has the hips to be a big-time cover corner."

Allen realized he was a good football player the first time he stepped on the field. After starting in basketball when he was 5-years-old, he got his start in football when he was 8. He tried quarterback, running and several other spots, but when he was moved to corner, he immediately found his spot.

It was like he was born to play corner.

"I like big hits and just being smarter than the guy across from you," Allen said. "I like how you have to think. They know where the ball is going, but it doesn't matter when you lock somebody up. It's just you by yourself. I love being on an island by yourself.

"You have to have confidence in yourself and trust your God given ability."

In a program that's loaded with blue-chip prospects in its junior and senior class, Allen's ability and confidence have made without a question one of the team's top leaders. Instead of having an in-your face type attitude, Allen said he believes in encouragement and teaching to get his point across.

"I like to be vocal a little bit, and I get my team pumped up," Allen said. "It's more motivational and encouraging things. I guess that's how I got the nickname the preacher. I'm always preaching to the guys about how to do things the right way and focus on the stuff that's important."

"I'm always positive. I tell all the guys to keep their head up and not to give up. You have to just keep working hard, and it'll all work out."

Allen said looking up to his father, Brian Allen, helped him turn out this way. His mother, Monica Allen, pushes him in a different way.

"My dad is very important to me," Allen said. "He guides me. He pushes me hard in athletics, and he keeps me focused on doing the right thing. Anytime I have a problem, he knows how to settle me down. He means a lot to me.

"My mom is always on me, but I know she does it because she loves me. She's all about the books. She's on me now about getting my ACT taken and getting that done. My parents have done a good job of raising me the right way. I wouldn't be here today without them."

Where he's at now is on the brink of stardom. Allen definitely has the tools to be an immediate impact guy in college, and the recruiting process might quickly turn him into a national prospect. He already has scholarship offers on the table from both Michigan and Michigan State, and quite a few other teams are already showing him a lot of attention.

"The first to offer was Michigan," Allen said. "It was really nice. We went up there and worked hard at the camp, and they offered me a scholarship. The only teams I talk to a lot now are Michigan and Michigan State, but my dream is to go to Florida State.

"I'm going to have to wait and see what God wants me to do. I'm going to sit down with my parents and talk to them and see what they think about the process. It's always been a dream of mine, though, to play for Florida State. But I'm open to anybody at this point."

Allen should have no problem handling the pressure of the recruiting process.

"It's going to be tough, but I think I have great leadership ability so there won't be a ton of pressure on me," Allen said. "Everybody comes up to me, and asks 'is there pressure on you Dionte?' I just go out there and play. My dad used to tell me to just be yourself and don't let anything like the pressure take that away from you.

"I'm going to be a leader, and I'm not going to let anything blow up on me - including the pressure of the recruiting process."

Allen does have NFL dreams and goals, but he also knows football won't always be there. And like other preachers he wants to give something back to his community.

"I like to be around kids," he said. "I'd like to maybe do something like a boys or girls club. I want to give back to the community, maybe have a little league program. I'm an intense guy on the field with a soft spot in my heart for kids."


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