Javorious Bucked the Trend

The powerback overcame great obstacles to get to USC, including being the first member of his family to attend college.

Fifteen year old Deonshaye Lilly has asked big brother Buck the same questions every day for the past six months.

'What's it like?'

'Is it as hard as people say it is?'

'Do I have a shot?'

Lilly isn't asking his brother, USC running back Javorious 'Buck' Allen, about playing football at Tailback U.

No. It's much simpler than that.

Allen is the first member of his family to attend college. He's bucked the trend. And Lilly wants to attend college too. So he asks questions, hoping he can continue what Allen started.

But if Lilly's path to college is anything like his role model's, it won't be easy.

Because, you see, Buck had a role model too. The oldest brother in the family, Devon Brown, 22, was Allen's everything.

"I used to look up to him like a father because I never knew my father," Allen said of Brown.

Raised by his grandmother in Tallahassee, Fla., Allen patched together the best family he could with her, Lilly and Brown. But when it came time for him to choose a college, he turned down closer-to-home football powerhouses like Auburn, Miami and Georgia.

Because by then, it didn't matter where he went to school. Brown was charged with attempted murder, Allen said, and the earliest he would be released from jail is 2025.

"When I lost him I kind of felt like I lost everything," Allen said.

But everything wasn't lost. Los Angeles offered Buck an opportunity to start anew.

And that journey began with his mom. Once he got into college, Allen reopened lines of communication with her and they still talk to this day.

But Buck didn't blitzkrieg opponents his first day in the Golden State. He didn't get to Trojanland until a week before the university's enrollment deadline because of academic issues. Arriving so late forced the 6-1, 210-pound athlete to redshirt.

"I felt like I was behind. Trying to catch up was really hard for me. This year I feel like I have no excuses. I'm just here to work," Allen said with an intensity, his southern drawl distinct.

He's been here for half a year and Buck still keeps to himself. This is a business venture for him. The coaching staff sees him as a bit of a mystery, and only a few of his teammates really know much about him. One of those players is another redshirt freshman, fellow east coaster Anthony Sarao.

"We just ended up clicking, I don't know what it was," the New Jersey native said. "We just come off silent because we want to play our backs to the wall until we get up the ladder and work hard. We don't want to do too much, just try to get the job done and get out."

Soon enough, everyone will find out what job Allen can do.

Will he be an every down back? Probably not. Will he bulldoze his way through the line of scrimmage in short yardage situations? Probably.

But could he be that guy that takes it to the house? Could he run with Brown in the back of his mind, hoping his life turns out for the better? Definitely.

Because if you know where Allen has been, you know how hard it will be to take him down.

"His legs are super strong, and I think people underestimate his speed. He's faster than most people think he is. He's a big back but he's fast," Sarao, a linebacker, said.

"I'm not here to mess around," Allen said. "I just want to make plays and get a chance. It's a dream come true to be in college so I got to make the best of it.

"My family is here to motivate me."

Whenever he ends up on that field, Allen's family will be there. All four of them. Lilly, Allen's grandmother, his mother, even Brown.

To find them, just look for the one carrying the ball.

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