Nick Allegretti has made a name for himself going into his senior season at Lincoln-Way East.
The center started for a Class 7A state runner-up last season.
More than four months after playing in the state championship game at Memorial Stadium last November, he committed to Illinois within hours after Tito Odenigbo from Centerville (Ohio) became the first commit in Tim Beckman’s Class of 2014.
Now he’ll try to do even more than that.
Like playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next January in San Antonio.
“It’s a pretty cool thing,” Allegretti said. “It’s a huge honor, and there’s been some unbelievable players who have played in it.”
Andrew Luck. Ndamukong Suh. Adrian Peterson. Percy Harvin.
Those four are just a few of the players who have competed in the game since its inception in 2000.
Allegretti is one of 400 players across the country who are nominated for the 2014 game, which will take place Jan. 4 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
“It’d be a huge deal for the team and recruiting at Illinois if I could get my name on the list,” Allegretti said.
Illinois has had seven players in the past play in the game — Justin Green in 2009, Reggie Ellis in 2008, Arrelious Benn, Martez Wilson and D’Angelo McCray in 2007, Rashard Mendenhall in 2005 and Cyrus Garrett in 2002 — but none this decade.
Allegretti won’t find out if he is one of the select few to make the roster until this fall.
The task of securing a nomination for the game didn’t just transpire with Allegretti’s on-field production.
His blocking ability played a major role in the process, but Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar had to nominate him for the game and several letters of recommendation were sent to the All-American committee.
Essentially, it was like a job interview for Allegretti, who sports a 4.5 grade-point average and is ranked 36th academically in his class of 540 students.
“It was very in-depth,” Allegretti said. “To be honest, I put the work in I needed to on it, but my parents and my coaches really busted their butts on it. They had to write the letters, and my dad organized it into a great binder. It was a very long process, but I’m very grateful for it.”
Allegretti, who committed to Illinois on March 11, is working out four days a week in preparation for his senior season with the Griffins, last year’s Class 7A state runner-ups.
He has visited Illinois twice this summer to attend the showcase camps Tim Beckman and his staff have put on.
It’s a chance for him to talk to other potential recruits in the Class of 2014, which Illinois has six commitments from at the moment.
And he did take notice of the news on Monday of former Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt transferring to Illinois.
He’s eager to see what the competition could look like between Lunt, incoming freshman quarterback Aaron Bailey and this year’s backup, Reilly O’Toole, once he arrives on campus.
“I was very excited when I heard about that,” Allegretti said. “I think it’s going to be extremely interesting watching them go at it. Offensive guys, especially wide receivers and running backs, seeing that we just got a quarterback who filled in for Brandon Weeden from day one as a true freshman at a program like Oklahoma State, know that’s a pretty big deal.”