Picking right back up where he left off after an eye-opening spring, USC redshirt sophomore tailback Javorius “Buck” Allen came through with an impressive performance on Thursday in the Trojans’ first scrimmage of fall camp.
With freshman Justin Davis going down with an unspecified injury mid-way through the 102-play test run in the Coliseum, on top of the absences of Silas Redd, Tre Madden, D.J. Morgan and Ty Isaac from action, Allen was leaned on heavily, making the most of the extended opportunity to put his still-developing talents on display.
Showcasing a no-nonsense rushing style, Allen -- who has been overshadowed at times this August by the likes of Redd, Madden and Davis -- ran fast and with authority on his way to a scrimmage-best 49 yards on 18 carries.
“It felt good out there today,” Allen said. “I always want to come out here and make a statement, and that’s what I tried to do today. I want to do the best that I can -- hit the holes hard, and just make plays and make an impact on this team. When our backs went down, my number was called, and I knew that I had to step up. I’m here to do my job -- I’m here to make plays.”
Thursday’s effective outing by Allen was typical of how the former Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln star performed throughout much of the spring, but that wasn’t always the case. Buried on the depth chart for his first two years on campus, he amassed a total of just 32 yards on six carries.
This past March, however, Allen emerged as one of the revelations of spring drills. Showing tremendous improvement in just about every facet of his game, he gained the trust of his coaches and teammates with his consistently high level of play.
“I got in the playbook and I got confidence,” Allen said in discussing the reasons behind his transformation. “And when you get confidence and you know the plays, you play fast. That has been my biggest thing, so I’m making a point of staying in the playbook -- I can always get better.”
Bringing that newfound level of confidence into his summer workouts, Allen continued to make strides throughout June and July, and he believes that he’s miles ahead of where he was just a few months ago.
“Whatever you put in, that’s what you’re going to get out of it,” said Allen, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 215 pounds. “And I feel like I put in a lot of work this summer, and it’s starting to pay off. I had guys pushing me, I really stayed on top of things, I stayed in the film room and I just worked really hard.”
But as part of a loaded tailback unit that most figure will feature either Redd, Madden or Davis as the starter come the team’s opener at Hawaii on Aug. 29, Allen still has much to prove as he makes a bid for playing time. For Allen, who says that he and his running back-mates have developed a bond whereby they’re more “like brothers” than just teammates, leap-frogging anyone on the depth chart is less of a concern than it is to simply continue in his progression as a player, with the betterment of the team always at the forefront of his thoughts.
“My goal is really just to come out and to work hard and to get better each and every day,” Allen said. “I want to push hard, and in the end, to make the team better as a whole.”