RANDALLSTOWN, MD. — Word is, when Georgia finally received the signed scholarship papers of Patrick Allen last February, the yells were louder and the high fives just a little harder in the Bulldog coaches’ offices. They know how hard they worked hard to land the 4-star offensive lineman and player of the year in Maryland.
Or more accurately, to keep him.
Allen looked like a lock for the Bulldogs for a long time. He committed to them the summer before his senior season and remained happily betrothed deep into December. But then Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo left for Colorado State and he took line coach Will Friend with him. Suddenly the smooth ride to Athens was wobbling wildly.
“I thought I had everything set, but when I found out they left, I had to step back and look at the situation again,” said Allen, who had 30-something other offers to fall back on. “I didn’t want to get a coach I didn’t know and not like them. So I waited.”
Allen de-committed while attending the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl all-star game in Carson, Calif., in January. And that decision brought repercussions with it.
“I had (tight end) Jackson Harris as a roommate and he kind of jumped me that night,” Allen says, laughing. “When he found out I was in the room asleep. It was like 12 o’clock in the morning or something, and he started wailing on me with a pillow. He was yelling, ‘you’re going to be a Dog, I don’t care what you’re saying.’”
Allen’s renouncement posed some big problems for the Bulldogs. Offensive line was an area of emphasis in the 2015 class, with a number of players about graduate. And Allen had represented one of the Georgia’s early successes in an otherwise difficult struggle.
Meanwhile, Allen had continued to be intensely recruited by several proud programs, especially Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas and Michigan. And hearing Allen’s news, each knocked hard on the door of new opportunity.
But Georgia didn’t dilly-dally about its situation either. The Bulldogs replaced Bobo with Brian Schottenheimer on Jan. 7 and hired Rob Sale as line coach on Jan. 10. And one of the first recruiting stops for both of them on the first day in-home visits on Jan. 15 was to see Allen.
“That showed me everything I needed to know,” Allen says. “Coaches can leave just like that (snaps fingers). I studied on what my mama and my coach told me: ‘You’re not there for the coach, you’re there for the school. In the end, it was Georgia itself that I felt comfortable with. There were a lot of other places I was comfortable with, but I couldn’t shake Georgia. That’s where I wanted to be.”
Said Franklin High coach Anthony Burgos: “Obviously he saw something in Georgia and Coach Richt that he really liked. It worked out for the best. He wanted to go South. That was a major thing for him, playing in the SEC.”
Another major factor keeping Allen with the Bulldogs was his relationship with Tony Ball. Georgia’s wide receivers coach was Allen’s primary recruiter.
Of course, nine days after national signing day, Ball left to take a job at LSU.
“I was like, ‘Wow. Really?” Allen says, clearly still irked by it. “These were the guys up here every weekend, seeing me, calling me. I gotta tell you, that bothered me. I called Coach Ball right away, and he was honest. He said, ‘Pat, if it’s there I’ve got to take it for my family.’ I respected his decision and everything, but it really bothered me.”