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By GOOSE LINDSAY
Fans of the Rockwood Tigers or any team that the Tigers have played over the last four years can tell you who Bryant Allen is.
Saturday afternoon, football fans across the state of Tennessee will get their chance to find out about Rockwood’s big No. 44 as Allen is one of 88 players from across the state selected to play in the 2007 Toyota East vs. West Tennessee All-Star Classic played Saturday at noon at Carson-Newman’s Burke-Tarr Stadium.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be selected to play in a game like this,” Allen said. “I think everybody always wants one last chance to play in high school. I’m getting that chance and it’s with the best players in the state. I’m nervous and excited at the same time to see how I stack up.”
“I’m very proud of Bryant,” Rockwood head coach John Webb added. “Bryant’s very deserving of this and he’s been doing a great job here in practice. He’s going to do just fine Saturday.”
Allen was a two-way workhorse at Rockwood as he’s considered by many to be the top linebacker as well as fullback in Roane County for each of the past two seasons.
This season alone, Allen rushed for a team-high 774 yards and 10 TDs while recording more than 100 tackles. During his four-year career, Allen rushed for 2,199 yards and 31 TDs while recording 100 or more tackles in each of his four seasons in the green and gold.
Saturday afternoon, Allen will play fullback along with Tennessee High’s Elijah Bible.
Allen, however, will be playing at less than 100 percent Saturday afternoon as the senior is recovering from a season full of bumps and bruises that included injuries to his elbow, shoulder, leg and thumb. In fact, Allen had surgery after the season on his thumb and will be playing Saturday’s game in a cast and he also has a hairline fracture in one of his fibulas.
“I’m a little bit banged up,” Allen said. “But I’m going to play. I’ve been out running and doing what I can to be ready for Saturday.”
“Bryant probably shouldn’t be playing, but he wants to play and the doctor said he can play,” Webb said. “That just shows how tough he is and what kind of kid he is,”
A good performance during Saturday’s contest or during practice this week could also help Allen’s chances of landing a college scholarship. Allen is currently being looked at by several schools in both football and baseball.
“College coaches have been all over the place today,” Webb said after Wednesday’s practice. “They’ll all have a chance to get a closer look at him.”
“Knowing all the college coaches are here is great motivation in itself,” Allen added. “I’d love to play both sports in college, but if I can help myself this week in football that would be great.”
Showing off for colleges, however, will not be Allen’s main concern.
“I’m going to have fun,” he said. “I’m going to give it my all and give 100 percent, but I’m also here to have a good time.”
Webb will be joining Allen on the sideline Saturday as he has been selected as one of five assistant coaches to serve under Knoxville Catholic head coach Mark Pemberton.
“I was surprised when I found out I was selected to coach,” Webb said. “This means a lot to me because not everybody gets a chance to do this.”
Coach Webb will be coaching defensive backs this week and his philosophy is simple; have fun and make plays.
“They’re wanting a lot of offense Saturday,” Webb said. “There’s no blitzing or man coverage on defense. You have to stay in cover two or cover three all day so there’s not a lot we can do on defense.
“I’m just telling my guys to have fun, play hard and use your athleticism to make plays. It’s incredible the number of great athletes that are here this week.”
Saturday’s game will be broadcast locally on WVLT-TV channel 8 in Knoxville beginning at noon.