Omari Allen commits to East Carolina

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Jun. 30—HENDERSON — Vance County lineman Omari Allen has started preparing for his football career after high school by announcing his commitment to play for East Carolina University beginning in the fall of 2022.

Allen has worked hard over the last several years to put himself in a position to play for a big school at the collegiate level, and is hoping ECU will provide him the opportunity to perfect his game and keep playing for many years afterwards.

"This feels really good," said Allen, who's 6-5 and 308 pounds. "I'm a big dude and I think going to East Carolina will help me and my family too."

East Carolina emerged as Allen's favorite school after Vance County offensive coordinator Greg Greene and defensive line coach Brian Yarborough took him to Greenville to participate in the team's Big Man Camp.

A strong performance from Allen caught the attention of East Carolina head coach Mike Houston and his staff, which led to Greene and Yarborough engaging them in several conversations about Allen's strengths and how he could get better.

One day after the Big Man Camp, East Carolina passing game coordinator Latrell Scott called Greene and Yarborough to invite Allen back to the school for another workout. Allen excelled in the workout and immediately accepted the ensuing offer from East Carolina.

Allen knew that East Carolina would be a perfect place to play football after interacting with Houston and the program's offensive line coach, Steve Shankweiler. He wants to make an impact for East Carolina as soon as possible while the team continues to rebuild in Houston's third year as the head coach.

"The environment [at East Carolina] is amazing," Allen said. "Coach [Shankweiler], Coach Houston, Coach Scott and everyone else are such great people to learn from. It just feels like home."

Greene was more than happy to see Allen find his perfect school after first meeting him while running a youth football organization during his time with the Boys & Girls Club in Durham. Greene said that Allen's size and strength earned him a spot on a team for 9 and 10 year olds when he was just 8.

Several years later, Greene was working as an assistant coach for Riverside-Durham High School when he recognized Allen one day in a school hallway. Although he was not playing football at the time, Allen was convinced by Greene to join Riverside-Durham's team as a guard for the 2019-20 season.

Allen and his family ended up following Greene to Vance County when Greene joined Hunter Jenks' coaching staff in 2021. He formed a close bond with Greene and Yarbrough while putting in a relentless amount of work to earn a role on Vance County's team in his first year.

"The stars aligned with Omari," Greene said. "He wanted to know if there was any room for him at Vance County and we said the answer was yes. I picked him up and fed him, but Brian was responsible for getting Omari in shape. We all have a really tight relationship and we can get the best out of him because there is a level of trust there."

With Yarborough's help, Allen lost 60 pounds ahead of the 2021 season for Vance County, which was shortened to just five games in the winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Allen showcased his talent by averaging 4.3 tackles per game and tallying a sack against Southern Durham.

Greene added that Allen possesses tremendous versatility as both an offensive and defensive lineman, which should make him a valuable member of East Carolina's roster as soon as he graduates from Vance County.

"When Omari walks through the door, his size definitely jumps out at you," Greene said. "Omari is also a man of his word when it comes to putting the work in with us as coaches. When he is committed to something, he means it, and Omari is committed to ECU."

Greene is expecting Vance County to continue its development from their abbreviated winter campaign and is confident that Allen can be a great leader for the program and help give his teammates the push they need to lead the program back to the postseason.

While Allen is looking forward to starting at East Carolina, his focus remains on the upcoming fall sports season, where he has set goals for himself and his team to end his high school career on a positive note.

"I want to be the best that I can," Allen said. "Hopefully I can get at least 30 tackles and about five or 10 pancakes a game. I want to go out there and dominate."

Allen begins his final season in a Vance County uniform when his team hosts Warren County for the County Line Clash on Aug. 20.