SPRING HILL — When Will Allen stepped on the scale at Florida State’s junior day this past winter, he didn’t like what he saw.
That number looks impressive on rosters and recruiting sites where bigger almost always means better for offensive line prospects.
But the Springstead offensive tackle wasn’t happy with the way his body felt, looked or moved — especially when he heard other players marvel at what they could do with his 6-foot-7 frame.
“A lot of people would say, if I had your size, if I had your weight…,” Allen said. “It just kind of got to me after a while. I have it. That’s with me for a reason, so I’ve got to make something out of it.”
And when he got back from Tallahassee, he started to do just that. Since that late January weigh-in, Allen has lost almost 50 pounds.
His strength hasn’t dipped much, and he’s faster on the line with better lateral quickness. At 277 pounds, Allen still has the size that makes recruiters from USF, FSU and Florida stop by spring practice.
“I can coach someone for 50 years,” Eagles coach Bill Vonada said, “and I can’t make them 6-6, 275.”
Allen has always had head-turning size. He weighed almost 10 pounds at birth, and he was too big to run the ball in peewee football.
By his sophomore season, Allen was a 310-pound varsity anchor with an increasing role on the team.
“He would eat anything and everything,” said his mother, Cindy.
When college coaches began expressing interest last season, Allen decided he needed to change his habits. Instead of following the path of other linemen recruits and guzzling high-calorie meals to bulk up, Allen wanted to slim down to increase his Division I prospects.
“It just became more of a reality — I can do it,” Allen said. “So that’s really when I really wanted to take my body to the next level.”
Allen cut red meats and fast food out of his diet. Dinners used to feature spaghetti with heavy meat sauce or pork chops. Now they’re heavy on fish or chicken.
He eats fewer late-night sweets. And instead of having unhealthy Mother’s Day leftovers this week, he dined on fish with rice and vegetables.
The change in diet also paid off for the one who cooks many of Allen’s meals. His mother lost 10 pounds, too.
“It kinda came quick,” Allen said.
With the better diet came better exercise. He attacked offseason conditioning harder than ever, pushing himself on sprints and stadium laps until he started feeling weak.
The pounds kept slipping away.
“He’s got good internal drive,” Vonada said. “When he puts his mind to something, it’s probably going to happen.”
Allen, a solid student who takes AP and IB classes, will be able to test his slimmer frame in next week’s spring game against Weeki Wachee, but colleges already seem impressed. Georgia Southern gave him his first offer earlier this month, and Harvard, Vanderbilt and Duke are also very interested.
Allen stressed that though he’s come a long way, he’s not a finished product yet. Now that he’s in better shape, he wants to increase his strength and boost his 280-pound bench press to make use of his powerful body.
“For some reason I have it,” Allen said. “So I’ve got to make the best of it.”
Matt Baker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.