April 15, 2009

Clemson's Allen getting antsy about his role

CLEMSON, S.C. - Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen was noticeably perturbed as he walked away from the practice fields a week ago.

He reluctantly agreed to an interview request and, asked what was bothering him, said this: "I don't really want to talk about it. I don't want to start any controversies."

Maybe it was just a bad day to catch Allen, who redshirted last season as a freshman. But it's probably not an exaggeration to say he isn't happy as he evaluates his role in the offense.

In February 2008, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Allen spurned Georgia at the last minute and gave Clemson a high-profile signee at tight end. At the time, he had visions of becoming a major contributor in the Tigers' offense as a pass-catcher.

Allen knows it's early - he hasn't even played in a game yet - but he's getting antsy.

As the Tigers put the finishing touches on spring practice, he didn't think the tight ends were sufficiently involved in the passing game.

On this day, Allen said he was frustrated about "just the offense."

"We had a good day overall," he said. "But there were times where we were struggling, and I felt like the tight ends could have been more involved."

Beyond that, Allen gave short answers to questions about his frustrations.

Asked if he has a feel for how involved the tight ends will be in this offense:

"Right now I have no idea."

Asked if the tight ends' involvement is different from what he anticipated when he signed with the Tigers:


Asked what his role has consisted of thus far:

"Blocking, pretty much."

Asked what he envisioned:

"That we were going to be in the game plan and we were going to be involved a lot - and catching balls."

Asked if that's happened thus far:

"Not this spring. But it's still the spring."

Approached after the spring game - a game in which he didn't catch a pass - Allen said he'd "evaluate my options" during the offseason.

He'd just watched tight ends Michael Palmer and Durrell Barry combine for 115 yards receiving on eight catches. Tight ends coach Danny Pearman asked him why he didn't have any.

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier, who played a large role in Allen's recruitment, said the spring game is proof enough that tight ends will have a substantial pass-catching role in the offense.

"How many balls did the tight ends catch?" he asked. "I'd ask him now that the spring game is over if he'd want to rethink what he said. … It's a freshman. You've got to be careful a little bit with them guys and what they say."

Napier said there's no reason for Allen to think he won't eventually be a vital cog in the offense.

"Dwayne Allen is going to be a marquee player at Clemson University," Napier said. "He's one of the most talented people that's come through this program in a long time. And I'm glad I've got him. I'm going to put him in position to be successful, and he's a guy we're going to use."

Coach Dabo Swinney echoed those sentiments after the spring game, saying Allen "could be the best tight end to come out of Clemson when it's all said and done."

Allen says he does feel good about his development thus far.

"I wanted to get my feet wet on this offense in the spring, and I think mostly it's gone well," he said. "I'm the fastest tight end we've got, and I do a great job at the point of attack. The only thing that's really killing me right now is flexibility."

Allen mostly ran with the second team behind Palmer during the spring, but he also got some looks with the first team.

"I'm a team player," he said. "As long as the team is doing great, I'm great."

He doesn't want to start any controversies, but he does want to start catching some balls.


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