Position: Offensive Line
Previous College: Grossmont (Calif.) College
Status: On Scholarship
Harry Lee "A.J." Allen (b. Sept. 16, 1994) is our shining hope at left tackle. While that might seem like a lot of hype to place on a JUCO transfer who wasn't set to arrive until June 9, I'm going to do it anyway. We need him to be great.
Cody Whitehair protecting Jake Waters' blind side does wonders for Whitehair's stock, but his continuing to line up at left guard does the most good for Kansas State in 2014. Allen is the key to that equation.
Although he swears that he is targeted for the right tackle position, I believe the failure of either Aaron Bennett or Luke Hayes to develop in the spring into the left tackle we need makes Allen lining up on the left a necessity.
A gigantic man-mountain who rivals Cornelius Lucas in sheer mass, Allen is a three-star prospect from California.
He played two seasons for the Grossmont Griffins under head coach Mike Jordan, helping the team to go 5-5 during his freshman season of 2012 and 5-6 as a sophomore in 2013 to earn a trip to the Western State Bowl.
Allen was rated the nation's 13th-best junior college offensive tackle by ESPN. In a nice change of pace, he spurned Texas Tech to commit to us late in the cycle after we already had lost three prior commitments to the Red.
He credits the passion of the K-State fan base for his decision to become a Wildcat, GoPowercat.com reported:
"I didn't think this was going to happen," admits Allen about the commotion his social media event caused.
"I figured I would just say it and that would be it. I didn't know all these people would hit up my Twitter. It was amazing and one of the best experiences of my life, especially all the support from K-State's fans."
"The people out there," continued the junior college transfer emphatically. "The fans, they were a big part of it. I really wanted a place with a family atmosphere and Purdue offered that too in areas, but I felt more at home at Kansas State. I loved it from the start. I just wanted to make sure my gut feeling was right and I trust it now." ...
"I really want to thank the fans," finished the Wildcats' 20th commitment. "At times, I may have looked or gone somewhere else, but they're very passionate and persistent. That means a lot to me."
Allen lettered two seasons for the Valhalla High School Norsemen under head coach Charlie Bussey, was selected to play in the 2011 California All-Star Game, and also participated in basketball and track and field.
Prior to his scheduled arrival last week, Allen was working diligently to get both his body and grades into shape:
"I'm in five classes right now," Allen told GoPowercat on Monday afternoon.
"I need only two to graduate, but I'm taking the three extra to get my GPA up. It isn't poor or anything, but this makes things more transferrable. I have all B's right now and I'm trying to get A's." ...
"I've been working out with him for four months so far and I've already improved my squat and deadlift about 100 pounds. I'm hoping to get up to 600 pounds on squat and 380 for bench."
"I've been training myself right now so I can be on the same schedule as Kansas State," continued Allen, who makes himself work out at the same time as current players, despite a two-hour time difference between Kansas and California.
"Tommie has been giving me some great advice on the next level. I've improved my punch for pass settings and he's been helping with what steps I should take in certain protection packages."
You can watch Allen's highlights here.