Why Michigan State football TE commit Kameron Allen trusts Mel Tucker with his future – Detroit Free Press


Michigan State Spartans football coach Mel Tucker speaks to the media on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in East Lansing.

Detroit Free Press

Michigan State football commit Kameron Allen remembers watching from the sidelines as Mesquite Poteet rolled Texas High School, 46-28, in an October 2018 road conference game. But what he recalls most about that night was the devastating two-hour bus ride home.

His team won, but frustration fogged his desire to celebrate. He was supposed to be the star of his hometown team, pocket a handful of offers and follow the recruiting trail to the college of his choice.

“I played three snaps the whole game,” he said. “That was one of the worst games ever. After we headed back, and it was like two hours long, I was like, ‘What am I doing anymore?’

“I didn’t even know if I wanted to continue playing football.”

Because of what Allen called favoritism shown by his coaches, the sophomore tight end transferred in January to North Forney High, where he pulled in more than 25 offers in 15 months before committing April 29 to MSU’s 2021 recruiting class. 

Michigan State tight end commit Kameron Allen transferred to North Forney High School after two years at Mesquite Poteet. (Photo: Kameron Allen)

His decision was based on the trust he has placed in coach Mel Tucker, who promised the best players will see the field.

“Going back in time, I never thought I would’ve ended up at a school like Michigan State,” Allen said. “Once I transferred, my whole support system changed. I had teammates that were pushing me, family pushing me, trainers pushing me. Everything changed when I switched schools.”

The Spartans weren’t on his radar until tight ends coach Ted Gilmore called March 24 with an offer. Allen was interested in the coaching staff’s energy and assumed MSU would be “high on his list” by the time he was ready to commit.

[ Making sense of Michigan State’s unexpected recruiting momentum ]

His commitment, even without an in-person visit due to the coronavirus pandemic, came sooner than he expected.

“I figured with all of this virus stuff going on, visits won’t even get set up, and people will start committing even sooner,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a business decision. I felt like Michigan State gave me the best chance to impact early, just with the circumstances on their roster. That had a major impact on it.”

Michigan State tight end commit Kameron Allen transferred to North Forney High School after two years at Mesquite Poteet. (Photo: Kameron Allen)

Building around Kam

North Forney coach Randy Jackson knew Allen before he transferred. From 2010-12, Jackson coached Mesquite Poteet, where Allen’s older brother, Kisean, played defensive back before starting his college career at Texas Tech in 2014.

Jackson kept up with the family and watched Allen from a distance and saw an athletic, 6-foot-5, 220-pound red-zone weapon with leadership characteristics.

Before Allen’s arrival, North Forney used an Art Briles-based offense with a tight end in the backfield, typically as a sixth offensive lineman that never caught passes. After a couple of spring practices, the coaching staff realized the rare opportunity Allen presented.

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“What I like to do with him most is flex him out 5 or 6 yards and let him work on those linebackers,” Jackson said. “He’s an over-the-middle guy, but he can go deep. He’s so big and competitive that he’ll come down with it.”

Michigan State tight end commit Kameron Allen transferred to North Forney High School after two years at Mesquite Poteet. (Photo: Kameron Allen)

Allen suffered a broken bone in his toe near the conclusion of spring practices and missed the entire 7-on-7 summer season. He showed up for each game to coach, not to play. Two games into his junior season, he was still showing signs of hesitancy.

Already set on molding the offense around him, the coaching staff called him in their office for a tough, yet honest, conversation. They needed him to rediscover the dominance he showcased in the spring. Otherwise, the new offense would have to be scrapped.

“That switched my mindset that I needed to go harder,” Allen said. “I played as hard as I could.”

By the sixth week, with the team 3-2 after back-to-back losses, the coaches fully implemented the Allen-centered offense. North Forney went 4-1 the rest of the season, and Allen finished with 16 receptions for 281 yards and five TDs.

Trusting Tucker

Since his commitment, Allen has spoken at length with Tucker, Gilmore and offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, who called the tight end “the MVP of what we do offensively.” Having Gilmore, a wide receivers coach for 24 of his 25 years, work with tight ends means MSU is likely to spread the field.

That’s a dream come true for Allen. He was promised the chance to compete as early as his true freshman season and doesn’t doubt Tucker’s integrity.

[ Why Michigan State football TEs coach’s wide receiver background will fit new offense ]

Mel Tucker is introduced as the new Michigan State football coach Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

“That was good, just to know I wasn’t getting myself back into a situation where I was in high school,” Allen said. “Coach Tucker has always just kept it real with me from the start. He told me they plan on taking two tight ends. He’s been one of the most honest coaches. He’s not about the B.S., hype and all that.”

[ Hampton Fay is Michigan State football’s newest QB recruit. Here’s what to know about him ]

Jackson expects MSU to use Allen as a receiving tight end in the red zone throughout his freshman and sophomore seasons. Once he bulks up to 250 pounds, the door will open to utilizing him as an every-down player.

If MSU’s coaching staff were to leave it up to Jackson, he’d be quick to give them a nod of approval to build the future of the offense around his tight end’s style of play.

But maybe that’s already happening.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Jackson said, “and there aren’t many Kam Allen’s that come through the door, so you better change your offense a little bit.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. 

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