Blue and Gold Illustrated

April 2017

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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40 APRIL 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY COREY BODDEN The morning of Feb. 13 went as planned for the Irish when they landed a commitment from Detroit Cass Tech Rivals100 2018 cornerback Kalon Gervin following his visit to South Bend for Junior Day. However, Gervin's decision was overshadowed by a somewhat sur- prising commitment later that eve- ning — Rivals100 2018 safety Derrik Allen of Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter. Allen had thought highly of the Irish since his offer last spring, but with several other prominent pro- grams courting the 6-1, 204-pounder, an early decision seemed unlikely. Allen, who is ranked as the No. 3 safety and No. 40 overall player na- tionally by Rivals, sensed where he wanted to be before the new year. "I kind of had my mind set in I want to say December," Allen told Blue & Gold Illustrated. "My parents wanted me to wait it out a little bit and make sure I was set on them. It was definitely a 40-year decision. It wasn't a football or four-year deci- sion. "It was beyond that with the aca- demics they have, the football pro- gram itself and how I felt there. It feels like home." Notre Dame's ability to beat out some of the top programs on the field in recent years raised some eyebrows across the recruiting world. Allen spurned not only in-state Georgia, but also the last three national cham- pions in Ohio State (2014), Alabama (2015) and Clemson (2016). "Definitely the academics," Al- len said of what set the Irish apart. "You just hear about Notre Dame and know. The first thing that comes to mind is it's a great school with a good football program. They're good in my major — computer engineer- ing. They're one of the best in the country. "It was really how I felt there. Also, how the coaching staff came after me, and I saw the academic side of it all. It really just felt at home." Allen made two trips to Notre Dame last year, with one coming in March where he earned his offer, and then in September for the Michigan State game. The addition of defensive coor- dinator Mike Elko helped push the Irish over the top. Allen sees himself fitting in ideally at multiple spots in Elko's scheme. "He was definitely a key factor with how he coaches and his de- fense," Allen said. "Also, how much he stuck on me and continued to communicate with me. "He's a good, hard-nosed coach. He knows what he is talking about. The scheme he is bringing to Notre Dame works great — I can play al- most all the safety and corner posi- tions. I'll be really versatile there." Allen has also built a good relation- ship with his future position coach Todd Lyght, who knows a thing or two about being a great football player in college and beyond. "He still texts me a whole lot and wants me to go up there again soon," Allen said. "He's actually going to come down for spring practice; he asked me about it. "He played in the NFL, so he can relate with the players very well. He knows what he is doing. He knows what it is going to take and how to grind. He knows what has to hap- pen in order for you to live out your dream." Notre Dame will have to continue to fight hard to keep Allen in its class. He said Ohio State and Michigan are two programs recruiting him hard despite his commitment to the Irish. Allen is the highest ranked com- mitment in the class according to Rivals, coming in 19 spots ahead of the next closest — Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine Richland quarterback Phil Jurk- ovec, who is listed as the No. 3 dual- threat quarterback and No. 59 overall player nationally. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution selected Allen to its Cobb County All-Metro team, while the Georgia Sports Writers Association named him a second-team Class AAAAAAA All-State pick. ✦ FILM ANALYSIS Strengths Derrik Allen is arguably the best safety prospect Notre Dame has landed since Harrison Smith in 2007 … He plays mostly cornerback for Lassiter, and he's a legit four-star player at that position, but it's the safety position where he projects best … He's long, has good size and is a physical football player at the cornerback position … Has elite coverage skills for a safety … Is a smooth and fluid athlete; everything he does on the football field looks easy … His long speed is quite good, and he possesses excellent agility … Has elite balance, and his change of direction is effortless … An intelligent football player that does a tremendous job reading routes and getting a jump on the football … Gets his hands on a lot of passes and has the potential to be an impact player in regards to forcing turnovers at the college level. Areas For Improvement Like all young players, he must continue filling out his frame and adding good weight room strength … Needs to reshape his body a bit more than most elite-level defensive backs, and his speed is not that of other top-flight defensive backs. — Bryan Driskell COMMITMENT PROFILE DERRIK ALLEN "IT WAS DEFINITELY A 40-YEAR DECISION. IT WASN'T A FOOTBALL OR FOUR-YEAR DECISION. IT WAS BEYOND THAT WITH THE ACADEM- ICS THEY HAVE, THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM ITSELF AND HOW I FELT THERE. IT FEELS LIKE HOME." ALLEN ON PICKING THE IRISH Georgia Standout Spurns Last Three National Champs For Notre Dame Rivals rates Allen as a four-star talent, and the No. 3 safety and No. 40 overall player nationally. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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