Much like his impact during the 2013 season, it didn’t take long for Buck Allen to make an impression on USC’s new coaching staff.
Of the players he’s come into contact with on his new job, running backs coach and special teams coordinator Johnny Nansen has no reservations about who’s stood out the most to him.
"Buck Allen," Nansen said. "He’s a warrior. The guy just works and he don’t complain.
"That’s what I love about him, and he’s always in the office trying to pick up one or two things to get better so I’m looking forward to that."
Allen spent 2013 making a meteoric rise from being buried on the depth chart at the start of the season to being named the team’s Most Valuable Player.
He’s more of a complete back than any other guys we got.
-- USC Running backs coach and special teams coordinator Johnny Nansen
He finished the season with 785 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns despite not scoring until the Trojans sixth game of the season. In two of the first five games, he didn’t receive any carries.
Yet when his opportunity came, he made the most of it. By the time the Trojans were preparing for the Las Vegas Bowl, he was the Trojans’ clear No. 1 back, breaking the 100-yard mark in four of the final five games of the regular season.
Washington didn’t have to face USC last season, but watching the film since accepting his new position at USC, it was clear to Nansen why Allen was so successful.
"He’s what I call a complete back," Nansen said. "Not only can he run the power plays, he can be in space (and) catch the football, which is really what stood out to me. He’s got great hands, and with what we do on offense you got to have those qualities. That’s why, like I said, he’s more of a complete back than any other guys we got."
The close bond between Allen and former running backs coach Tommie Robinson was well documented. In the early stages, it appears Allen and Nansen could be on the verge of forming a similar bond.
On Allen’s frequent visits to the coaches offices, the two discuss how the back can improve.
"Obviously he’s got to clean up some of his pass (protection) type stuff," Nansen said. "The kid is strong. He understands football and that’s coming from having great coaches in the past here so I just got to make sure I don’t mess it up."