Wisconsin’s future got a little brighter last Friday, as the Badgers received a commitment from three-star wide receiver Markus Allen in the Class of 2021. Allen, an Ohio product, decommitted from the University of Michigan two months ago. He chose Wisconsin over offers from Cincinnati and Virginia and was reportedly garnering plenty of interest from Big Ten counterparts Ohio State and Penn State as well.
Allen’s physical measurables stand out immediately. Listed at six-foot-two and 190 pounds, Allen provides the unique blend of size and speed that is so highly valued at receiver. A member of the track team, Allen has been hand-timed at a 4.48 40-yard dash, although it’s worth noting that hand-timed results are significantly less reliable than laser-timed runs.
While Allen’s physical traits are tantalizing, his high school performance might be even more eye-popping. Allen, who plays for Northmont, a Division I school in Clayton, OH, recorded 844 yards and a staggering 14 touchdowns in just eight games. His team went undefeated before being forced to forfeit a playoff game due to a COVID-19 positive test.
Allen’s prowess helped Clayton improve from 6-5 in 2019 to 8-0 in 2020, and he starred in several dramatic moments to ensure the team stayed perfect. He caught seven passes for 121 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown in a 38-35 victory over Springfield, a game in which Clayton trailed 28-7. In the team’s one playoff game, a 48-41 thriller against Marysville, Allen caught 14 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns.
Clayton’s head coach, Tony Broering, was effusive in his praise of Allen’s ability and work ethic.
“They know when you have a kid like that on your team, anything’s possible,” Broering told The Athletic. “We didn’t lose all year because we had Markus. If teams didn’t triple-team him, we threw him the ball and he made the play. You match him up with a quarterback like Wisconsin has, now you’ve got something for the foreseeable future that could really be an explosive combination.”
Wisconsin offered Allen before his breakout senior season, but were unable to make a serious impact in his recruitment. Ted Gilmore, Wisconsin’s receiver coach in 2019, had left to take the same position at Michigan State two months before Allen committed. His replacement, Alvis Whitted, never had the time to develop a relationship with Allen.
The opportunity to change that occurred in early September, when Allen reopened his commitment, citing lack of support from the Michigan coaching staff.
“What led me to de-commit from Michigan was I really didn’t feel wanted or loved,” Allen told The Athletic. “These next four to five years, it’s a big decision. You’ve got to go somewhere where you’re wanted and loved and you feel like you’re a top priority. I didn’t feel like I had that at Michigan. No diss to them or anything, but I just felt like I was the last guy that they really needed. They just wanted to have me.”
Allen felt that love from Whitted and the Badger coaching staff, who sold him on the chance at early playing time.
“Coach Whitted said there’s never been a Markus Allen at Wisconsin,” Allen said. “Wisconsin has never had that dominant receiver, like 6-2, 205, coming in as a freshman. They’ve never seen anything like that. He said they need a gamechanger to come in and change the atmosphere, change the perception of Wisconsin being a running team.”
All four receivers in Wisconsin’s two deep — Danny Davis, Kendric Pryor, Jack Dunn, and Adam Kruhmholz — graduate after the 2020 season. That leaves room for Allen to step in and make an immediate impact. He projects as a natural complement to freshman Chimere Dike and Class of ‘21 recruit Skyler Bell, two more technical receivers who lack the size and stature of Allen.
Allen’s commitment only adds to a historic 2021 recruiting class for a Wisconsin program that has now signed one five-star and six four-stars to date. That’s good for 16th in the country per the 247Sports composite, which will smash the program record of 26th set last season come national signing day. With Wisconsin recruiting at unprecedented levels, it’s easy to see the Badgers tightening their grip on the Big Ten West and posing a greater threat to Ohio State in the Big Ten East.