Ga. Tech's mixes Louisville-transfer Allen into offense

The student assistant in the tower that stands above the Georgia Tech practice field sounded the horn to end one period and then announced the next period through a bullhorn.

“No. 18, No. 18,” she called out.

That happens to be the number of captivating running back Anthony Allen, a transfer from Louisville who sat out the 2008 season.

How many times will his number be called in 2009?

Allen (6-feet, 228 pounds) is a starting A-back, a wing lined up off the tackle, and in terms of how the ball is shared, you have to think he is a third option in the offense behind B-back Jonathan Dwyer and quarterback Josh Nesbitt. Dwyer was named first-team preseason All-American by ESPN on Friday, and Nesbitt starts the play with the ball in his hands.

Allen is not letting the number of carries distract him.

“Like we preached the other day, it is a family, one team, and if a guy is getting the carries, the other guy is blocking and you have to do your part, but it is OK if you get excited, because they can’t key on one guy,” Allen said. “They don’t know who is going to get the ball.”

Allen averaged eight yards per carry in two seasons at Louisville and scored 20 touchdowns.

What looked so intriguing about Allen in practice Friday was not how he carried the ball — he didn’t carry it much — but how he caught it and blocked.

In one drill, he stretched out to catch a deep ball over the middle, bobbling it on his fingertips, then reeling it in with a defender just off his shoulder.

“My soft hands were a born gift,” Allen said.

In another 11-on-11 drill, Allen was lined up in the slot, split out from his usual wingback spot, and zipped inside to deliver a jarring block. Redshirt freshman linebacker Austin Flannery, a walk-on, was flat-footed and caught up in some traffic when Allen popped him. Flannery had to be helped off the field.

Jeff Monken, the A-backs coach, said turns with the ball will be the last thing anybody worries about with Allen.

“We preach unselfishness, which is important if you play in this offense,” Monken said. “He’s not ever asked when am getting it, can I play this position, none of that. He’ll get the ball plenty at slot. I was at Navy for six years, and those guys playing the slot kept breaking the school record for yards per carry. Of the 12 seasons I have been with Coach [Johnson], the leading receiver in probably five of them was the slot back.

“I don’t try and coddle those guys and tell them ‘we’re going to get you the ball’. It’s a blue-collar offense, and everybody is doing their part.”

Johnson on injuries

Sophomore tackle Nick Claytor did not practice because of a groin issue, and senior Brad Sellers stepped in for him and got repetitions at a spot that is up in the air as far as who starts.

Claytor missed all of spring practice after back surgery.

“He’s just giving the other guy a chance to beat him out, that’s all he’s doing,” coach Paul Johnson said of Claytor sitting out practice.

Junior safety Dominique Reese tossed a medicine ball against a cinder-block wall and did not practice. He has not practiced since Monday because of a hamstring injury, an injury that can linger, but Johnson is not concerned.

“He could go tomorrow if we had a game,” Johnson said.

Added Johnson, “Nobody is hurt bad. It’s all day-to-day.”

A visit from above

Tech president, Dr. G.P. “Bud” Peterson, addressed the team before practice Friday. The players should have paid attention to a guy who has written 14 books and holds eight patents.

The other reason they should have had ears open is he played Division I college football.

According to his Wikipedia entry, Peterson played football at Kansas State from 1972-74 and caught 30 passes for 359 yards.