LOS ANGELES — It was quite easily the largest crowd of the spring on Saturday for practice No. 12 at USC.
Buck Allen didn’t even notice.
There was an estimated 200 high school coaches taking it all in at Howard Jones Field in addition to family and media that frequent practices, but Allen’s focus was too intense to realize it as he returned to the practice field for the first time since Mar. 29.
Allen was itching to get back on the field. There’s only so many mental reps and walk-thru’s a player of Allen’s mentality can put up with.
As the team carried on with spring drills in his absence, Allen would stand behind the healthy running backs and work on footwork, but that was a just a small way to keep himself occupied and engaged.
"I hate sitting out, man," Allen said. "I love the game of football. It’s my life. I feel without football, I wouldn’t be here so I hate sitting out. It ate me up so much to see my guys suffer when I can’t be on the field."
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Allen knows what it’s like to be one of two healthy tailbacks to go through an entire practice. Such was the case during most practices Allen sat out due to injury. Such was also the case at times when the Trojans were preparing for the 2013 season. But this time around, Allen just happened to be one of those two healthy tailbacks. It was tough, but in hindsight it was a blessing in disguise. That’s part of the reason Allen got noticed.
He was all but written off by the old coaching staff. Then-first year running backs coach Tommie Robinson had a clean slate approach and saw Allen worthy of playing time, although it wasn’t until interim head coach Ed Orgeron took over that Robinson got his wish.
Allen did the rest, leading the team in rushing and earning team MVP honors.
Although he was viewed as most valuable, Allen sees himself as just one piece of the puzzle willing to do whatever it takes to win.
"I’m just trying to be the guy they need me to be," Allen said. "If they need me to be a leader, if they need me to go out there and play center or whatever they need me to do I’ll do it. I’m a team guy."