RANDALLSTOWN, MD. — Patrick Allen is a walking, talking contradiction. One moment, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman is telling you about his alleged involvement in a gang and about his suspension from middle school for breaking a guy’s nose. The next, he’s introducing you to Bingy.
Bingy (pronounced like Benji) is Allen’s kitten. He originally got the cat for his mother, Minnie Moore, to help her deal with separation anxiety as her baby boy went off to college in Georgia. But as Bingy’s primary caregiver in the weeks leading to his departure from this Baltimore suburb, Allen became attached to the little fella. He decided he couldn’t leave town without her.
“He’s a big, baby,” Allen said as he cradled and kissed the furry pet. “He whines a lot. He resembles me a little.”
Later, as Allen shows a visitor around the tidy home he shares with his mother and stepfather, an electronic keyboard is spotted in his basement bedroom. Asked if he can play, Allen sits on his bed and raps out a sweet little melody as Benji curls up next to him. It’s a daily routine he said he does for relaxation.
But then there’s that other side of Allen. Franklin High coach Anthony Burgos talks about the “mean streak” with which Allen plays and about his propensity not to just win his battles on the offensive line, but his need to dominate his opponent.
This is the paradox of Allen. He freely moves between the personas of menacing offensive lineman and mama’s boy.
“He’s a gentle giant,” said his mother, who works two jobs to help take care of her son. “He can be rough when he has to be, especially on the field, but he’s gentle and respectful most of the time.”
The environment in which we find Allen belies the story he tells of a hardscrabble upbringing that began in St. Louis and Kansas City before landing him here in the Baltimore suburbs. The interior of the split-level, gray house with maroon shudders on Windmill Circle is neat and well-decorated. It is evident that it is a home of love and nurturing. Cereal, wine and fruit crowd the granite countertops in the kitchen. The air is a cool contrast to the hot summer wind blowing on the other side of the front door.
But then Allen begins telling of the 11 brothers and sisters he shares between his mother and his father. He tells of his attempts to track down his biological father, Paul Malone. When he finally did at the age of 16, he found his father imprisoned in Missouri for 30-plus years for attempted murder. Worse, Malone refused to acknowledge that Allen is his son.
“He basically disowned me,” says Allen, who proves an open book when it comes to the details of his life. “He wanted a DNA test. My brothers and sisters are like, ‘don’t worry, we know you’re our brother.’ … I didn’t really sweat it. It was more about being accepted by the rest of the family.”
Credit Allen’s mother — who maintains that Malone is Allen’s father — for getting her son into a more nurturing environment. A full-time employee with a credit-card processing company, Moore was transferred to Baltimore area when the company relocated there about eight years.
It was supposed to be a temporary move. The thought was she would stay in Maryland only for a period of time before returning to Missouri. Allen and his closest sister, Jessica, stayed behind with Moore’s husband at the time.
But once Moore got to Reisterstown and got settled in well, she decided that the area would offer more opportunity and be more conducive raising her children, who were then still in primary school.
“My mother is the one who has always provided everything,” Allen says. “Well, before she met my stepfather. She’s always worked. At one point she had four jobs. You can’t stop my mom from working.”
Moore’s children came, but they did so kicking and screaming. The truth is, Allen didn’t truly find peace — or a purpose — until he found football. And he was late in getting around to that.
Allen didn’t start playing football until the ninth grade, and then he went straight to Franklin High’s varsity squad.
“I didn’t start playing sports until eighth-grade year when I played on my middle-school basketball team,” Allen says. “Ninth grade year is when I actually started playing football. I didn’t know much, but I learned quickly.”
Allen laughs when he thinks about that first day of preseason practice. When he came outside from the locker room, he asked coach Anthony Burgos to which field he should go, with the varsity on the artificial turf or on the grass fields with the JV.
Then 14, Allen already stood over 6-1. Burgos quickly sized him up and pointed him toward the varsity field.
“His foot was already a size 14, so you just knew where he was going to go,” Burgos recalls. “We knew he was going to grow into his shoe size. It was just a matter of getting him developed in the weight room and working with our offensive line coach.”
Burgos’ assessment of Allen was spot on. By the end of his ninth-grade year, he’d grown to 6-foot-3. And with the training of Burgos and line coach Mark Agent, a former Maryland standout at center, Allen blossomed into one of the better players the storied Franklin football program has produced.
Allen went on to become a four-star prospect with more than 30 major college offers and the first Franklin football player to sign with an SEC school. Not only did Allen lead the Indians to back-to-back 3A state championships his junior and senior seasons, but he became the first offensive lineman to be named Maryland’s offensive player of the year.
“Now he’s in a whole different world,” Burgos says. “Now he’s going to be going against guys who are 22 years old and are looking to become first-round draft picks in the NFL. He has that desire, too. And as long as he keeps up his work ethic, he’ll continue to develop.”
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