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GREENSBORO, N.C. - Northern Guilford High School's Johnny Roscoe has coached for over 40 years and in that time he has tutored his share of outstanding athletes. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice is among that company.
According to Roscoe, however, no one has shined like his current star, Alabama commit Keenan Allen, who on Wednesday afternoon accepted an invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in front of 1,100 students inside the Northern Guilford stadium.
"In terms of guys who can just do it all, Keenan's versatility makes him the best I have ever coached. If we need a touchdown, he can certainly do that for us, but what makes him special is that if I needed him to play offensive guard, he would do it without complaint and block his man," said Roscoe. "He takes the mentality on every play that he can do something to change the course of the game even if he is on defense or special teams. He plays quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety and kicks for us as well. Who knows what else he will do in the playoffs."
Allen is slated to play wide receiver in Tuscaloosa next fall, but no decision has been made on where he will line up in the Army game on January 9 or in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas All-Star game on December 19 in which he has also been selected to participate.
According to Allen, whatever success occurs during those games is owed to a number of people.
"My teammates push me every day to get better and better. They don't take it easy on me at all. I have to work hard and go at it to keep up with them, and because of that they have made me ready for college and hopefully the NFL," said Allen. "My coaches and parents have always kept me straight, too. So many people around me have been such a positive influence in my life that it is hard to name them all, but they all know who they are.
"This is a great honor for me and my school. I have worked my whole life at this. I started football when I was six years old and even as a young running back I had dreams of playing in all-star games and going to play for a big-time college and I am accomplishing those goals through hard work. It is just a tremendous blessing for me, my family and the entire community here at Northern Guilford."
The respect Allen has garnered in his two years at the school was evident when the student body exploded at the news that the Rivals five-star recruit was selected to play in the most prestigious all-star high school football game in the country - and it carried over well after the ceremony was formally ended.
Students and family members stopped by to take pictures with the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Allen for over 40 minutes after the final bell had rang to dismiss students for the day.
"I have really found a home here at Northern Guilford and I will always remember the support and love I have received for these two years," said Allen. "The fans really motivate me here, and they will continue to do so at Alabama."
Allen ended his college recruitment almost two weeks ago the weekend of his unofficial visit to watch the Tide take on LSU by formally announcing his decision to commit to Alabama.
"What really got the ball rolling with Alabama and Keenan was Coach (Bo) Davis. He was the first person we met when we first got to Tuscaloosa two summers ago for camp, and he showed us everything we needed to see right away," said Allen's father, Scott Lang. "Coach Davis has been with us every step of the way. People thought it was funny that the defensive line coach was recruiting Keenan, but Coach Davis is the kind of guy that makes everyone feel at home and at ease. He was huge with Alabama getting Keenan.
"Coach (Nick ) Saban sort of sealed the deal because he and Keenan have a special connection. A lot of people go into Coach Saban's office and are intimidated, but Keenan can walk in and they can talk about anything. Keenan isn't going to do that with just anyone."
Allen is the No. 9-ranked prospect overall and No. 1 in the state of North Carolina by Rivals.com.