USF

Commentary | Leon Allen headed back to college after surgery; Woodie turns down shot at Arkansas

Leon Allen was seriously considering declaring for the NFL draft when a knee injury made the decision for him.

The former Manatee High running back turned in a stellar junior season at Western Kentucky. It included 237 yards rushing against Marshall in his regular-season finale and 345 yards against Army, a Conference USA single-game record.

The injury is not career threatening, requiring minor surgery, but he wouldn't have been able to participate in the NFL combine or most likely his pro day.

That alone made coming out the wrong decision, especially the way NFL teams look at running backs as expendable these days.

But the 6-foot-1, 235-pounder is intriguing to NFL teams because of his ability to catch passes. He rushed for 1,580 yards and 13 touchdowns on 272 carries and caught 51 passes for 476 yards (9.3 average) and three TDs.

Allen is one of only 15 major-college running backs to rush for more than 1,400 yards and have more than 400 reception yards since 2000.

Woodie stays put

Loyalty has always been important to USF assistant football coach Ray Woodie, which is a reason he is a two-time conference recruiter of the year. Parents see through a lot of the stuff that college coaches throw at them, so when they encounter a guy they perceive as genuine it goes a long way.

The linebackers coach at USF, Woodie has turned into one of the hottest commodities in the college coaching circuit, but his loyalty to Bulls head coach Willie Taggart has been steadfast.

Woodie was head football coach at Palmetto and Bayshore and played for Palmetto. Taggart is considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to come out of Manatee High, and those hometown bonds are strong.

Woodie was reported to be the top target of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema, who was looking for someone to replace linebackers coach Randy Shannon after he left to join the new staff at Florida.

There would have been a substantial pay raise, and working for a Power 5 conference school is a nice resumé boost. Woodie would have likely had a job title boost with Shannon also holding the title of co-defensive coordinator and associate head coach. He was invited for an interview, but declined.

Woodie is not just a recruiter. He has proven he can coach.

He became a college coach in 2010 when Taggart made him defensive ends coach at Western Kentucky, where three of his players earned All-Sun Belt honors.

Under Woodie's tutelage, USF linebacker Nigel Harris led the nation with six forced fumbles, and DeDe Lattimore, now with the Chicago Bears, had a career-high 98 tackles.

Carnes to CFL?

Brion Carnes, the only quarterback to start for four years at Manatee, could be headed to the Canadian Football League.

Carnes wants to play quarterback, and the CFL offers him his best opportunity. He would have to switch to receiver to have a chance in the NFL.

Carnes has taken a winding path since his final season at Manatee in 2010. He was the earliest commit in the history of USF, spent his first two years at Nebraska and played the last two at Northern Iowa.

Carnes had a solid senior year at NIU, throwing for 1,182 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 314 yards and four touchdowns. He seems to be the type of quarterback Jeff Tedford, the new head coach of the B.C. Lions, covets.

Got to give it to Carnes for his moxie. He went to Nebraska though the Cornhuskers had Taylor Martinez entrenched at quarterback and at NIU had to beat out a quarterback who was coming off a banner freshman year.

If the 6-1, 200-pound Carnes had gone to USF, he could've played his last two seasons under Taggart in a scenario that seemed destined for success.

Unfortunately, Leavitt was fired, and his replacement, Skip Holtz, gave Carnes an unrealistic deadline on his commitment and then pulled the scholarship offer when the youngster didn't meet it.

Stating their cases

WKU receiver Willie McNeal (Braden River) and USF center Austin Reiter (Lakewood Ranch) are done with their careers and will be trying to show NFL scouts what they have on their respective pro days.

The best chance for the 5-10, 180-pound McNeal could be as a kick returner. He caught 56 passes for 666 yards and eight TDs last season in the Hilltoppers' pass happy offense.

The durability of the 6-3, 296-pound Reiter is unquestioned. He started every game at center for three straight years, missing only one snap last season and tying for the team lead as a junior.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter @ADellSports.

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