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Steelers select Cortez Allen in fourth round

CORTEZ ALLENCornerbackThe Citadel Bulldogs, the Military College of South Carolina6:01.4-196Ocala, FloridaNorth Marion High School4th Round – 128th Overall Quotes from Cortez Allen and defensive backs coach Carnell Lake below bio*  Carnell Lake video on Cortez Allen
CAREER NOTES**Started 28-of-39 games for the Bulldogs…recorded 121 tackles (77 solos) with three stops for minus seven yards and a pair of fumble recoveries…deflected 16 passes and intercepted five others for 130 yards in returns and two touchdowns…also returned a partially blocked punt five yards to set up a scoring drive…became the sixth player in Southern Conference history to generate 100 yards via interceptions in a game…his 112 interception return yards as a junior marked just the sixth time a Bulldogs player amassed over 100 return yards in a season (first since 1977)…was also part of a 2009 squad that averaged 37.33 yards per interception return in 2009 (11 for 341 yards), breaking the old FCS team season-record of 34.45 yards per return by the 2001 North Carolina A&T team (20 for 689 yards)…also recorded 13 tackles on special teams…did not allow any receptions in 13 of the 29 games he started…in 2010, became the first NCAA Football Championship defender to intercept the first play from scrimmage and return it for a touchdown in a season opener, accomplishing that feat vs. Chowan University.

2010 SEASONEarned All-Southern Conference second-team honors from the league's coaches…rated the second-best draft eligible cornerback in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision ranks by The NFL Draft Report…started all 11 games, recording 23 tackles (13 solos) with a stop for a three-yard loss…led the team with six pass deflections and intercepted two tosses for 18 yards in returns, including one touchdown…made eight of his stops inside the red zone, including two on goal-line plays.

2009 SEASONThe All-American third-team choice by The NFL Draft Report received second-team All-Southern Conference honors from the league's media…started all 11 games, as he ranked second on the team with 57 tackles (36 solos)… recovered one fumble and deflected five passes, as he had three interceptions and became the sixth player in school history to record over 100 return yards with his pass thefts (112), the highest total by a Bulldog since 1977…added two tackles on the Bulldogs' kickoff coverage unit.

2008 SEASONPlayed in all 12 games, starting six at cornerback…finished ninth on the team with 39 tackles (27 solos), as he posted a pair of stops behind the line of scrimmage…recovered a fumble and deflected five passes, as he also fielded a partially blocked punt for a five-yard return, setting up a Citadel scoring drive.

2007 SEASONSaw action on special teams in four games...finished with a pair of tackles.

2006 SEASONRedshirted as a freshman…appeared briefly in the Georgia Southern game, but did not record any statistics.

HIGH SCHOOLAttended North Marion (Ocala, Fla.) High School, where he was a track standout before joining the football team during his senior campaign…helped the team record a 10-4 record and capture the 2005 regional championship in 2005…earned Class AAA All-State, All-City and All-District V honors, in addition to being named the Colts' Most Improved Player…recorded 45 tackles (24 solos) with five pass deflections, one interception and one fumble recovery during the regular season (11 games)…competed in the prestigious North-South All-Star Classic.

PERSONALHealth and Wellness major…son of Patricia and Louis Green…born 10/29/88...resides in Ocala, Florida.

Cortez Allen Conference CallDid you have a feeling Pittsburgh would be your destination?I had no idea, but I'm happy.  I'm very, very happy to be a Steeler.

How did the Citadel routine cut into your football?We do go through the military process and military things as far as marching and drills.  But when we have an opportunity to do football, we're in football.  So, we're not fully involved in everything military at The Citadel.  When it's during the season, our main focus is football as far as doing drills and things like that.  I don't think it hinders me at all.  If anything, it makes me a better person to be able to manage all that.  We go through that.

*Coach Lake said you got a late start to the game. *That's just kind of how it happened.  I moved around a lot in the earlier years, so I didn't really get a chance to get into little league football or anything like that.  When I got to high school, I kind of just saw what worked for me.  Sophomore year I played basketball, only did one sport that year.  Junior year, I tried to play varsity, but they told me they were a little far ahead so I had to play JV.  When I got the chance to play varsity my senior year and was doing pretty good at it, and ended up at the Citadel and ended up being a Steeler.

What schools recruited you out of high school?Sam U. [Sam Houston State University], Cincinnati, Bethune-Cookman, SIU [Southern Illinois University], Colgate, The Citadel, and some other small schools

Re: Military Obligations:No, that's a choice for the student, but it's not a requirement.

You could make the choice to go into the military upon graduation, but you don't have to?I would go in as a second lieutenant like any other military college.

Re: Decision to pick the Citadel:It's a different experience. I felt that going in there would prepare me for life. I thought the opportunity granted me unlike any other school, and that's the choice I went with.  I felt that if I worked hard enough I would get noticed playing football, and that's what happened.

Re: Fitting in with the other picks:I'm a hard worker, and I'm coming from a hard-working school, a school of hard work, leadership, and success. I feel like I have the ability to stand out and contribute just as well as the other guys.

Re: On-field stand point from a DB:I'm hard working and highly competitive. I'm very coachable. I'm willing to get the job done and able to compete.

Re: Special teams play:I played on every special team except for kick-off return.

Carnell Lake on Cortez Allen
Is he a raw guy that you look forward to molding?Cortez Allen is a nice size corner from The Citadel, around 6' tall and 200 lbs. He's a quick, fast guy that plays physical. He can play both the bump and off coverage well. He doesn't have a lot of experience, but he's productive and I think he has a lot of upside. For us to take him at this point in the draft I think we got a good deal here.

Re: elaborate more on why this is such a good deal.I don't want to speak for the other teams in what they say or didn't see in him, but we've noticed that with limited experience he looks pretty natural at cornerback. Again he plays off coverage well and bump-and-run well. In our defensive scheme you want somebody that can do both. I think his reaction and vision is really good. From a zone team that we have, you need that in order to make plays and drive on the ball. With his size he'll be able to better compete with some of the receivers out there, especially the receivers that the other teams have been drafting. I see him as a very versatile player that is not afraid of contact. With a little more experience I think he is going to do really well.

With his limited experience does this mean that there are no bad habits to break?That is the beauty of this pick. He played one year of high school football and moved around a little bit, playing the corner at The Citadel. The Citadel is not a "football factory." A lot of the work that he gets is very limited in terms of football. I asked him when he came to visit us, "How much time do you get to work on your craft." He said, "I don't get a lot of time because I have to do The Citadel stuff." So I said this guy is really playing well, and he's not working on his craft that much because of his limited time. If he can spend a lot of time working on his craft I see a lot of upside for him. I think that is one of the reasons why we selected him.

When you took this job did they tell you that reinforcements were on the way?Well I was hoping that would be the case we didn't specifically talk about that. I think any time we can strengthen the secondary it is going to help us tremendously. I think this is a good start for us, we got two corners, a third and a fourth round which is really exceptional. I'm hoping that these guys can come in and pick up the system right away. I think both the Texas player Curtis Brown, and Cortez Allen are bright enough to do that. I'm hoping that they can come in and help us right away.

A lot of fans and media fans were hoping that you'd take a cornerback in the first round. Now you've gotten two back-to-back here in the third and fourth. Can you address some of the needs by throwing numbers at bodies, or bodies at the numbers, at the corner position?Obviously, as you guys know, the Steelers have done very well at selecting talent for years. It looks like we're taking the best talent that we can when it comes up at the round that we choose. And this is just another example of that. Not only are we getting the best talent, but we're fulfilling a need at positions that we want to strengthen.

The experts were saying that the top cornerbacks would be hurt in this draft by the depth, by the number of corners available in the middle rounds. Is that how you felt going in and is this an example of that?I think the at the very elite level of cornerbacks it was probably [that] the depth was even shallower. I think as you got in the second or third round, you just saw teams really go after corners. Especially in the third round. It was just one corner after another, one DB after another, right in the middle of third. And I think that's where people saw the most depth at the position.

When you look at a guy from the Citadel, do you say we're going to get great work ethic and character? Or is that more PR from media?No. Cortez Allen has got really good character. He's a good guy. His work ethic is something that I like a lot. You know you are getting somebody that's been trained to be disciplined coming out of The Citadel. And in this game, if you want to play a long time, you've got to have discipline and you've got to be able to take coaching well. At The Citadel, that's what they do. They train young men to go out there and serve our country. I think once you get a chance to talk with Cortez, you'll see the same thing. He's a good, strong character guy.

Is there a linebacker out there you want to convert, or are you guys about done in the secondary?If he runs a 4.3, I'd be happy to convert him.

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