Sometimes, being first isn’t always best.
But in the case of the recruitment of D.J. Allen, it was.
Back in February, Coach Greg Schiano and Rutgers became the first Power 5 program to offer the Leo senior-to-be.
Four months later, the Scarlet Knights secured a commitment from Allen while he was on a campus visit.
“They trusted in me and my ability from the beginning,” said Allen. “And they built a relationship with not just me, but with my parents and family.”
The two-way standout commands attention at tight end where the 6-foot-7, 235-pounder is s matchup nightmare, but it is on the edge on defense where Allen truly excels. Last year he finished with five tackles for loss and a sack to go along with 18 tackles while missing time due to Covid.
“D.J. is the type of player and person who looks to improve every single day at everything he does,” Leo coach Jared Sauder said. “He is an outstanding student-athlete who continues to build his strength, athleticism and leadership skills. We are very proud of him and excited for this opportunity for him.”
It is on the edge as a hybrid d-end/outside linebacker that Rutgers has Allen penciled in.
“They say I can play anywhere along the defensive line, but they want to build me up and fill me out,” Allen said. “I have a lot of room to grow without losing much in terms of quickness.”
While additional scholarship offers came from the likes of Iowa, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and others, Allen was always big on Rutgers. On his visit to campus in New Jersey, reality matched up with expectations.
“When I got there it was a family environment and they were excited to see me,” Allen said. “It felt right from the beginning, and it continued to feel that way through the entire visit. They are definitely a rebuilding program, but they are working to get back to where they were, if not better than that.”
Coach Shiano is in his second go-around with the Scarlet Knights. In his first season back with the program in 2020 after a nine-year absence, Rutgers went 3-6. However, the Class of 2022 is currently one of the top 10 in the country per ESPN and sits at No. 3 in the Big Ten.
“They didn’t make a point to point that out when I was there, but doing research you can see guys who have had Big Ten and SEC offers have chosen Rutgers,” Allen said. “That was eye opening.”
As for his final year of high school, Allen, rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports, is looking forward to showing out on the gridiron, as well as playing basketball in the winter.