VolQuest - Linebacker CJ Allen a priority for Josh Heupel, Vols
football Edit

Linebacker CJ Allen a priority for Josh Heupel, Vols

Tennessee made a big-time move with linebacker CJ Allen back in April when he was in town for the second spring scrimmage. That bond has continued to grow as the Vols view the 6-foot-1, 220 pound athlete as a priority in the 2023 class on the defensive side of the football.

“The relationship is going great. Coach BJ [Brian Jean-Mary] and coach [Josh] Heupel are building a great relationship. Everything seems relaxed and nothing feels forced,” Allen told Volquest. “I really like the honesty with coach BJ. He’s a great guy and a great coach. He keeps it real with you and half the time we talk, it’s about life and not football. That’s what I like about him the most.”

During the scrimmage on April 9, the defense made some highlight plays. It was situational football, and there were several guys out, but the squad racked up three defensive scores on several forced turnovers.

“I liked their ability to move around fast. Of course, they are practicing against their offense which is tempo. But I liked their ability to run, play fast and physical,” the linebacker said of the Volunteer defense. “It felt very comfortable. I could see myself being there. I loved everything I saw.”

Allen boasts 31 offers at the moment with about five or six teams in contention. His plan is to commit somewhere prior to his senior football season – likely at the end of summer. The 2023 prospect will graduate in December and become an early enrollee, wherever he chooses.

The Lamar County standouts hopes to be back in Knoxville for the premier Memorial Day weekend recruit event, but has already locked in an official visit date with the Vols. Allen plans to take part in that on the final weekend of June.

Georgia, Oklahoma and Southern California are also expected to receive June official visits from Allen.

“The programs who are in it for me, they have all been honest with me and have been consistent with me,” the linebacker said. “All the glamor is cool, but really, it’s about being honest. It’s a business and I like how these teams would use me in the defensive scheme.”

Tennessee sees an elevated ceiling in Allen’s game.

“They like me as a linebacker who can do it all. They see me as a guy who can blitz and cover,” the Peach State native said of the Vols. “They see me as a versatile linebacker – same with the other schools, really. They think I’m a guy who can use my speed sideline-to-sideline.”

Along with starring on the defensive side of the football, Allen plays fullback in the triple-option scheme for Lamar County. The stereotypical ‘bruiser’ lines up and takes the handoff up the middle, getting north as fast as he can. He’s also got some ‘shimmy’ to his game that can make some miss.

There are a lot of positives that come from playing the running back position that is applied to the other side of the football.

“It helps me on defense, playing running back,” Allen said. “I know what holes or gaps I would take. It just helps knowing what the other guy would do.

“Tackling a ballcarrier is way better than the other. It’s better on defense. It’s fun playing offense – scoring touchdowns and stuff like that – but I’ve found more enjoyment on the defensive side of the ball.”

With the Volunteers firmly in the running, Allen will continue to evaluate the relationship side of things with coaches who are recruiting him. That’s where Heupel and Jean-Mary may have the edge right now as last month’s visit made a big impression.

“Coach Heupel loves his guys and cares about them off the field. That’s a big thing for me,” the linebacker concluded. “He wants the best for his guys. He’s also turning the program around. Our conversations are very good. He probably texts me every other day, or every day. He sends me quotes in the mornings – stuff like that.”

The three-star owns a Rivals Rating of 5.5.