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‘I Love, Love that Position’: Penn State DC Tom Allen Thrilled to be the LB Coach of LBU

Abdul Carter and the Nittany Lions sing the Penn State alma mater following their 31-0 win over Iowa.

Tom Allen’s most notable title at Penn State is defensive coordinator. 

But also significant is the fact that Allen will be Penn State’s linebackers coach, succeeding Manny Diaz, now the head coach at Duke, in both capacities. 

There are more names of Penn State linebacking greats than there are items on a child’s Christmas list. 

From Dennis Onkotz to Micah Parsons, Penn State’s been churning out stars for what seems like forever. Allen knows about the tradition. Before coming to Happy Valley, he was the head coach at Indiana for seven seasons. In that time, Allen coached against players such as Parsons, Brandon Bell, Jason Cabinda and, most recently, Curtis Jacobs and Abdul Carter. 

“I knew it was Linebacker U,” Allen told reporters at his introductory press conference at Beaver Stadium Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve known that for a long, long time. I love, love that position, and I’m so excited to be able to be a part of a place that’s known for that.”

Penn State’s linebacking greats have worn a barrage of uniform numbers. 

Sean Lee wore No. 45. 

Brandon Short wore No. 43. 

Dan Connor wore No. 40, and Paul Posluszny and Shane Conlan each wore 31. 

Allen was asked specifically about the No. 11, and he’s well aware of it.  

“You think about LaVar Arrington and the way he played,” Allen said. “That’s kind of become the standard, and guys want to become that. Obviously, Micah Parsons has been a guy that wore that number well recently and I got to see him up close and personal. 

Allen coached against Parsons in 2018 in 19. The current Cowboy superstar combined for 15 tackles (12 solo) and a forced fumble.

“Glad to see him move to the next level,” Allen said, “because he was almost unblockable.” 

Along with Arrington and Parsons, Bell and NaVorro Bowman, each wore the number proud, among others. Allen loves the uniqueness of the tradition.

“I just feel like anytime you have a number like that that has so much history and so much legacy and expectation,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s pretty special. And especially because, when you put that number on, you better play to that standard. Because all those guys that wear it before you, they’re watching, and there’s an expectation for that. So I think it’s neat to have. Those are the kind of things that you can’t just… you can’t fabricate that, you know… that has to mean something. That has to be so special, that, man, there’s pride in that.” 

Allen knows all about the current man who wears No. 11 at Penn State. 

For the past two years, he had to coach against Abdul Carter, and now, he’ll be trying to help him get better. 

Hours before Allen’s introductory presser, he met Carter and said the two had their first conversation. 

Allen described Carter as a “big athlete who can move.”

“I think his best football is ahead of him,” Allen said. “I really do. I believe that. So I think he has a great opportunity to keep growing and developing, and I’m really looking forward to doing what I mentioned to you about that time together, that 1 on 1 time because I think he’s a guy that has been really special. I think he can take his game to a higher level, and I hope and expect to lead him to that place. 

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