The 2022 Wisconsin in-state recruiting class has been known for a while as being uber-talented. After initial recruiting rankings came out, there were six 4-star recruits. Milwaukee King WR/TE Jerry Cross (committed to Penn State), St. Croix Central (Hammond) OL Carson Hinzman, St. Mary’s Springs (Fond du Lac) OL/DL Billy Schrauth, Whitefish Bay OL Joe Brunner, Sun Prairie DL Isaac Hamm, and at the time Fond du Lac S Braelon Allen.
Things have changed.
While the other five are still 4-star recruits in the 2022 recruiting class, Cross is still committed to Penn State and Wisconsin has all but Schrauth set for official visits on June 4, very few things have remained the same with Allen, other than his immense potential.
When the 2020 fall football season was still planned for Fond du Lac HS in, well, the fall, Allen was still a 2022 recruit who was listed as a safety and was doing stuff like this:
455x5 pic.twitter.com/SkbIjYugJ8— Braelon Allen (@BraelonAllen) August 17, 2020
385 hang clean. New record ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/mgH3CrhQIJ— Braelon Allen (@BraelonAllen) July 20, 2020
While already considered a high upside safety and weight room freak, Allen was primed for a big junior year to continue his rise in recruiting rankings.
However, though about 75% or so (quasi-educated guess) of the state played football in an abbreviated season during the fall, Fondy was one of the schools who opted to wait for the spring to host their season. Then this happened.
Business decision ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/eUaRSGstTh— Braelon Allen (@BraelonAllen) September 17, 2020
Allen, the lone commitment in the 2022 class at the time reclassified to the 2021 recruiting class, bolstering a class that finished No. 15 in the 247 rankings, the highest in school history. Allen would join fellow 4-star safety Hunter Wohler (Muskego) as the first (and only) 4-star defensive backs to come out of Wisconsin in the online recruiting rankings era.
So, to recap, a 16-year-old junior in high school made the decision (he was able to academically) to skip his senior year of high school and join the recruiting class in front of him. This is much more common in basketball than football, though not completely unheard of. The fact that Wisconsin was in lockstep with the decision shows how highly they think of Allen, and is an impressive accomplishment for the young man.
Now, I feel it’s important to preface this next section with the fact that some recruiting services had begun to list Allen as a linebacker, though most primarily still as a safety. Allen continued to post impressive workout videos over the winter, and prior to the spring season posted this video on Twitter:
quick pre-season update pic.twitter.com/LGmJc1nNsG— Braelon Allen (@BraelonAllen) February 27, 2021
Uh, how many 240 pound safeties you ever heard of? Yeah, me neither.
Though Allen still primarily plays free safety in Fond du Lac’s defense, he actually lines up all over the field. He’s also being utilized on offense, to the tune leading the state in rushing touchdowns. He’s also doing stuff like this to kids:
April 2, 2021
He’s also still lifting like this during the season:
Quick 475 pic.twitter.com/drTk1UB4su— Braelon Allen (@BraelonAllen) April 19, 2021
315 high cleans pic.twitter.com/rsAzjUzyZ0— Braelon Allen (@BraelonAllen) April 21, 2021
WHAT THIS ALL MEANS
Braelon Allen used to be a safety recruit. Unless he loses 15-20 pounds, which given his current physique I wouldn’t theorize he has 15-20 good pounds to lose, I think we can write off the safety label moving forward, and acknowledge him as a linebacker recruit.
Now, this raises an important question - would he translate better to inside or outside linebacker? While inside linebacker is the easy path to envision, Allen eventually lifting himself into a pass rusher isn’t a completely unheard of career arc. Current Cincinnati Bengal. and former Ohio State defensive end, Sam Hubbard was recruited by the Buckeyes as a safety out of HS, redshirted, lifted his way to linebacker, entered his first spring as a linebacker, lifted his way to defensive line and started his redshirt freshman season as a defensive end.
However, it will be worth watching to see if at any point Wisconsin puts a rev-limiter on Allen in the weight room from a growth standpoint. Allen is already at 240 at 16, and has yet to be in a Division 1 strength and conditioning program (though Fondy’s S&C program is as good as any high school program in the state).
One of Wisconsin’s current starting inside linebackers, Leo Chenal, was listed on the spring roster at 257 pounds, a weight much heavier than most linebackers in football in 2021, in a world with spread offenses and whatnot. Essentially, it’s 2021, and while they both clearly have the genetics to pursue a potential future professional wrestling career, there’s certainly a point of diminishing returns at linebacker from a weight standpoint.
At the risk of doing too much speculation about a 16 year old, if he ends up in the 250s, to me it’s as likely he could be converted into an outside linebacker and pass rusher, which truthfully the Badgers haven’t had many guys with Allen’s athletic profile at the position. Others have even entertained the idea of him playing running back due to his success this spring, but I think Wisconsin will recruit running backs to play running back.
Regardless, Allen has been a fascinating recruit to monitor throughout his high school career, and now expediting his path to Madison, he’ll be a fun player to monitor in the fall. Playing linebacker in the Big Ten. At 17 years old.
::points squarely at you, reading this article::
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?