It was a harmless move by Coach Ed Orgeron last season, and boy did that move spark something special. After riding the pine for the first five games of the year, the healthy running back who continued to work religiously each and every day against the first-team defense, finally got his chance to carry the rock.
His arrival could not have come at a better time, as USC was fighting out of its own mess to move past the Lane Kiffin era and embrace the Gumbo loving "players coach" who wanted the best for his players on and off the field.
The weight of expectations had been lifted, and Buck Allen's resultant two-touchdown performance against Arizona started something special in USC's backfield during an exciting turn-around near the middle of last season.
The team-elected MVP led the squad to four 100-yard rushing performances and found the end zone 12 times in the final six games of the year. It was a breakout effort for sure, and the ever-calm and humble Javorius "Buck" Allen actually opening the flood gates for what could be an even more polished and star-studded junior season.
According to Chris Huston, the Heismanologist or just flat out THE EXPERT on all things Heisman Trophy, USC's breakout junior running back is among the 25 Player Post-Spring Heisman Watch List for 2014. After earning 135 rushes for 785 yards and 14 scores, those short numbers project out rather nicely over the course of an entire season.
UCLA's Brett Hundley and Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Thomas Tyner make significant impact on the list along with Allen from the Pac-12. While Notre Dame's Everett Golson will take his Heisman hopeful talents to the Coliseum this year after missing all of last season. The odds on favorite however, remains reigning Heisman winner Jameis Winston.
Huston, the former assistant sports information director at USC, has been high on former Trojans in the past in his working capacity. But the post-spring top-25 selection speaks to the overall impact that Sarkisian's running game and pass-catching situations could drastically have on Allen's production this season.
Allen enters Fall Camp as the Trojans top-ranked tailback on Steve Sarkisian's depth chart and will have strong competition with sophomores Justin Davis (still recovering from ankle injury), Ty Isaac and fully-healthy junior tailback Tre Madden ready to churn out carries in Sarkisian's high-paced offensive attack.
We may be getting way-too-far ahead of ourselves but the last tailback to win the Heisman Trophy was Mark Ingram (Alabama) in 2009, and before him ---well you know, Reggie Bush (cough, cough) in 2005. Anyway, the up-and-coming tailback is prime for another strong season not only in the backfield but catching passes in open space.
Keep in mind that in those final six games last season, Allen averaged just under four catches for 34 yards per game, which should only improve this season as the workload increases. Watch out folks, the Buck Allen Heisman Hopeful Train is coming.