Javorius "Buck" Allen was headed toward his best game ever at Lincoln High School (Tallahassee, Fla.).
Embroiled in a personal battle with Niceville running back Roy Finch, Allen had already accumulated more than 100 yards receiving out of the backfield and was on his way to catching his second touchdown pass of the game.
"I was feeling good," Allen says. "I just wanted to get the ball in my hands every time because I was making big plays."
As Allen hauled in that second touchdown -- a 23-yarder from quarterback Evan Brigman as the end of the half approached -- disaster struck.
The helmet of an opposing player struck Allen's leg as he came down with the catch across the goal line. The ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect was in pain.
"I didn't know how bad it was initially," Allen said. "I didn't think it was going to end my season."
Unfortunately for Allen, the injury was as bad as it looked. When Allen was told he had a broken femur, he knew his junior season was over shortly after it began.
"I couldn't believe I was going to miss a whole year of football," Allen said. "It was frustrating to see the guys out there playing and knowing I couldn't be on the field with them. It's a tough thing to watch."
But if things go as planned, it will be one of the last times Allen has to watch the action from the sideline.
After several months of rehabilitation, Allen is involved in sports again. He's running track for the Trojans and will be available for spring football practice in May. How involved Allen will be remains to be seen, but head coach Yusuf Shakir is eager to see his star running back return.
"I definitely want to see him back on the field but we're not going to rush it [this spring]," Shakir said. "Buck has nothing to prove to me. I know what he's capable of."
Several major programs are aware as well and haven't let the injury deter their efforts to sign the 6-foot, 205-pound running back.
Florida State, Georgia, South Florida and South Carolina are among the teams to offer. Allen hasn't made a top five yet, but he's looking into the four major Florida schools along with USC, Illinois, Alabama and several others.
His summer will be busy with 7-on-7 events, camps and campus visits as he tries to get a hold of his recruiting. Allen has not set official visits or announcement plans.
"I'm just checking out everything right now, trying to take it all in and see what each school has to offer," Allen said. "Hopefully I will find the place that feels like home and when I do, that's where I'll be for the next four years after high school."
Allen is preparing for his senior season and leading the Trojans to the Class 4A state championship game for the second time in three seasons.
Shakir has been around several of Lincoln's top stars in recent years. Before taking the head coaching job in 2009, he was the program's defensive backs coach and worked with current NFL players Antonio Cromartie and Pat Watkins. He believes that Allen has similar potential and brings additional size to the table.
"The main difference is that Javorius is a big guy," Shakir said. "He's over six feet tall and 200 pounds. Guys like Pat and Antonio were taller, but they weren't as big in high school as Buck is. He can run around guys or run over them."
A classic power-speed combination running back who can break tackles and beat defenders to the edge, Allen is the prototypical back every program covets.
Allen also showed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield in his short junior season, something that wasn't lost on his coach.
"We're going to give Javorius as many opportunities to get the ball as he wants," Shakir said. "We can't get back his junior year, but we can make his senior year one to remember."
For his part, Allen isn't looking back on the disappointments of 2009. He feels like the injury has given him mental toughness to go along with his impressive physical style of play.
"I know that whatever happens now, it could always be worse," Allen said. "If I hurt my ankle or something, I'm not going to cry about it because I've experienced worse. I just can't wait to get back on the field and play with my team."
Corey Long is a freelance writer in Florida.