Steelers use 5th-round pick to take Penn State safety Marcus Allen
Marcus Allen was born in Maryland, grew up in that state and crossed the Mason-Dixon line to play football at Penn State.
Make no mistake, though, Pittsburgh is home. Which is why the 21-year-old Allen was so elated to be drafted by the Steelers on Saturday in the fifth round with the No. 148 overall pick.
Allen was born in Silver Spring, Md., and he attended high school in Upper Marlboro. But his father, Shawn, grew up in Homewood and graduated from Westinghouse High School in 1982. His godfather is none other than Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin, the former Allerdice and Pitt star.
"I'm coming home," an emotional Allen said on a conference call Saturday moments after he was selected by the Steelers. "I'm coming home."
Allen was one of the safeties the Steelers hosted for a pre-draft visit, and he was hoping that trip to UPMC Rooney Sports Complex was a sign of things to come.
"Everyone has been anxious, anxious wondering where I was going to go, but it's a perfect situation," Allen said. "This is my home, man. It's my hometown. My grandmother is from there. My grandfather is from there -- my whole family. I'm so excited."
It didn't take long for Allen to snag a piece of Steelers apparel once his name was announced.
"I've got all this Steelers gear in my room," he said. "I just walked in my room and grabbed the hat off my stand and just put it on because I had so much Steelers gear."
At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Allen was a big hitter at Penn State, finishing as the school's No. 5 all-time leading tackler. In his senior season, when he was first-team All-Big Ten, he had 72 tackles, one sack, one interception and two forced fumbles.
Allen started 39 games over the past three seasons, and he also started the final seven games of his freshman season.
"To me, he's really a big-time tackler," Steelers secondary coach Tom Bradley said. "He will strike you. He's a very physical tackler. He's a real physical person around the ball. That's probably the best part of his game is how physical he is. We watched him and followed him at different times and watched him strike people. He gets after you pretty good."
Allen is less polished in pass coverage, but Bradley noted that Penn State used him in various schemes, which enhanced Allen's versatility.
"He played some two-deep, he played some invert, he played free. They moved him around a lot," Bradley said. "When he's around the ball, it's what he does best. I think that's the thing that we took notice of."
Allen is the third prominent safety the Steelers have added since the end of the season. They drafted Virginia Tech's Terrell Edmunds in the first round Thursday, and they signed veteran Morgan Burnett in free agency.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.