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USC coach John Robinson helped Marcus Allen with decisions to become successful
Marcus Allen believed that USC was the best football program from an early age. He was an easy recruit.
He played quarterback and safety in high school and wanted to play defensive back at USC. However, the USC coaches changed his position several times and it helped make him into the running back legend that he became.
Allen began following USC when he was eight years old in San Diego on his family’s black and white Magnavox TV. He loved the football program and knew it was the best place for him. Allen told me:
“I didn’t watch Mike Garrett play, but watching O.J. [Simpson] and the games they played in and the way he played made it natural for me to be attracted to USC. From that point on I always wanted to go there. I was one of the easiest USC recruits.”
He did make some other trips, but none of the other schools had a chance.
Allen was recruited as a defensive back by the Trojans. However, there were a lot of injured running backs so Coach John Robinson asked him to play tailback. Marcus said:
“I wasn’t going to play as a defensive back my freshman year so John asked me to come over and I said ‘sure’. It was as fortuitous as it can get or maybe it was meant to be. I played sparingly my freshman year and made some exciting plays, especially against Michigan State.
During that period I was focusing on special teams and making an impact there. A couple of times I was special teams player of the week which was good to keep you motivated and going.”
Marcus was also asked to change positions in his sophomore year to fullback. There aren’t too many 200 pound fullbacks so Marcus could have easily declined that change.
However, eventual Heisman Trophy winner Charlie White was the tailback so he wasn’t going to play much at that position. Here is how Allen discussed the change:
“John Robinson asked me if I would mind playing fullback. I said ‘sure, I just want to play.’
I didn’t know that it was going to be as physically challenging as it was. In retrospect it was probably the best thing that ever happened in terms of being able to play every aspect of the game.
Blocking, pass protection, lead blocking, catching the ball and it was a physical challenge and study in survival because I wasn’t the biggest guy. So, I had to become the smart guy too even though I thought that I was tough and learn the nuances against the linebackers.”