By LARRY VAUGHT
Penn State coach James Franklin, the former head coach at Vanderbilt, certainly has been impressed by UK consensus All-American linebacker Josh Allen. Franklin even has joked that he sent Allen a direct message on Twitter that he “may want to save yourself for the (NFL) draft” rather than play in the Citrus Bowl.
“I think the biggest thing is his length and his athleticism and how twitchy he is. Obviously when you’re considered the best defensive player in college football, the way he’s been able to impact the game in so many different ways, that’s probably what’s been so impressive. How twitchy he is, how productive he is, his length,” Franklin said.
The Penn State coach said Allen, who is projected to be a top 10 pick in the 2019 NFL draft, “fits the model” for the NFL. “We have a lot of discussions in recruiting and with some of our own players that say, ‘am I a 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level?’ because some guys may be undersized. This guy is 260 pounds. I think, like anything, you’re always looking for the biggest, the strongest, the most athletic guys that you can use in a variety of different ways. I think he’s a really good example of that.”
So what issues will he cause for Penn State’s offense and how can Penn State limit his effectiveness, something few teams have been able to do this season?
“Obviously the chess match, like always, is they’re trying defensively to put him in situations to make plays, and we’re trying to do the same thing formationally. How can we do things formationally to limit his impact?” Franklin said. “Same thing from a scheme standpoint. Obviously, we better have an awareness of where he is on every single play. “That’s the chess match constantly. What can we do with some motions, things like that, to limit his impact?”