ATHENS — Patrick Allen remembers well, and with some pain, his welcome-to-football moment:
He was a high school freshman in Maryland, and had been put at defensive tackle. His coach told him to shoot up the middle, and Allen did so, only to be met by a big offensive linemen who “blew me up.”
The name of that linemen: Greg Pyke.
“Every time I see him I make him apologize,” Allen said Thursday, smiling.
Four years later, the two are now fellow Georgia offensive linemen, Pyke the starting right guard and a redshirt junior, Allen a freshman tackle. Pyke was a senior at Baltimore’s Boys Latin School when he blew up Allen, who was starting his career at Franklin High School in nearby Reistertown.
It’s unclear whether Pyke remembers the play (it wasn’t his turn for interviews on Thursdsay), but the play has been seared in the mind of Allen, who described it in detail.
“I made the mistake of stepping against him,” Allen said. “He was at guard. And I didn’t know who Pyke was at first until he blew me up.”
Allen grew into a pretty good high school player, then a big-time college prospect. But he didn’t know Pyke was at Georgia until he was told early in the recruiting process. Another Maryland produce, defensive back Juwuan Briscoe, has joined the program, as an unlikely Maryland-to-Athens connection continues. Quarterback Brice Ramsey actually spent some of his childhood in southern Maryland, and former tailback Todd Gurley was born in Baltimore.
But Allen only moved to Maryland in 2010, and grew up in Missouri. The college football team he grew up rooting for? Georgia.
“I don’t know what it was, but when I was younger I was watching and the team in red was balling hardest,” Allen said. “And I was like, OK I wanna be one of them.”