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New defensive coordinator Tom Allen is “super excited” about being at Penn State

Tom Allen didn’t know when he would receive his next professional opportunity after Indiana fired him late last month, but he knew he wanted to coach football again.

When Penn State’s James Franklin approached him a few weeks later, he was receptive.

“I’m a football coach and I love what I do,” Allen said. “This opportunity that presented itself in this time frame was one I immediately had interest in. It probably happened a little quicker than I expected.

“Getting to know Coach Franklin and the way he does things, I was super excited. When the opportunity arose, we went after it.”

The 53-year-old Allen was introduced Wednesday as Penn State’s new defensive coordinator and linebacker coach. He replaces Manny Diaz, who left the Lions earlier this month after two seasons to become head coach at Duke.

The last time Allen served only as a defensive coordinator was 2016, his first season at Indiana. He was the Hoosiers head coach from 2017-23 and posted a 33-49 record, including several years in which he called the defensive signals.

He said he has no plans to use his new job as a springboard to another head coaching position.

“I’m not coming here for that purpose, I’ll tell ya that,” Allen said. “I’m coming here to be defensive coordinator. I’m 53 years old. I’ve had some great opportunities. I’m so fired up to be in this position at this place. I’ve been through that the last seven years and learned a ton.

“I feel like I’ve grown so much since the last time I was a defensive coordinator. I want to use that to be a better defensive coordinator and a better assistant.”

Allen built a strong reputation as a defensive coach in college stops at Lambuth, Drake, Arkansas State, Ole Miss and South Florida. He earlier coached 15 years at high schools in Florida and his native Indiana.

“Do you study the data? Yes,” Franklin said. “Sometimes that’s hard when you’re no longer calling the defense. So you go back and say, ‘What happened when he did coach the defense?’

“Then once you start talking defense again, does everybody in the room feel like not only does this guy know ball and know defense, but there are enough similarities in what he believes and what we’ve done. We don’t need to just start over.”

Penn State, which will play Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl Dec. 30 in Atlanta, ranks first nationally in total defense, rushing defense and sacks, second in tackles for loss and third in scoring defense and passing defense.

“You want to be at a place where the expectations are high and the standards are high,” Allen said. “You look at what they’ve been able to accomplish. It’s pretty impressive how they dominated in the run game and the throw game. They’re leading the country in sacks. Just disruptive.

“Hats off to Coach Diaz and what he did and the whole staff. There’s great chemistry. There are a lot of great people in that room. It doesn’t happen by accident. And it’s the players buying in. That excites me. I want to be able to build off what they’ve had here.”

During his time at Indiana, Allen coached four defensive players who were named All-Americans: Aaron Casey, second team, 2023; Tiawan Mullen, first team, 2020; Micah McFadden, third team, 2020; and Tegray Scales, second team, 2017.

Casey, McFadden and Scales were Indiana linebackers who were named to the All-Big Ten first team during Allen’s tenure.

“It’s about takeaways, tackling and effort,” he said when asked to describe what his defense will look like. “That’s our DNA every day. We’re gonna be an aggressive, attacking defense. We’re known for doing a really good job of disguising things, making that quarterback really have to process when the ball gets snapped. We take a lot of pride in that.

“It’s about letting your guys play fast and be very physical and attack. I want the guys to play free and I want them to play with absolute confidence. You have a simplicity to you but a complexity as it’s presented to the offense.”

Allen played linebacker from the time he was in fifth grade, he said. His son played linebacker for him at Indiana. He’s well aware of Penn State’s Linebacker U. tradition.

“That’s where my eyes go,” he said. “That’s where my heart is. I sat in pretty much every linebacker meeting at Indiana as the head coach. I love that position. I’m so excited to be part of a place that’s known for that.

“You think of all the greats who have come here to play. It really fires me up to be at a place that really attracts that elite level of linebackers.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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