During his days as a quarterback at Cape Coral High School, Nate Allen was known for his quiet, guide-by-example style of leadership.
Back at his alma mater Wednesday morning, the Philadelphia Eagles safety proved he can be a vocal leader as well. In front of a group of aspiring athletes gathered for the third day of the inaugural Nate Allen Football Camp, he preached the importance of getting good grades, not missing practices and consistently hitting the weight room.
"I'm just trying to encourage them," the 2006 Cape graduate said. "Tell them, you know, how to be a good person, have good character - not only be a good athlete, but a good student ... have that discipline to do both."
In the last six months, Allen's own discipline has been tested. After rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee in late December, Allen has spent most of this year in various stages of rehabilitation.
With the NFL lockout in its fourth month, Allen's been forced to take his training and recovery into his own hands. He spends his days in Bradenton at the IMG Academy where he works out under doctors' supervision in the mornings with additional supervised rehab sessions each afternoon.
Allen said he doesn't closely follow the NFL's labor negotiations, leaving that task to his father and his agent, but he said he has a good feeling about the league's future.
"(I'm hearing)that something is within grasp, but it's, you can't really say that it's real close to being figured out," said Allen, who added he was encouraged by the NFL owners' meeting Tuesday.
"They've started to agree on some stuff ... but you still have that other percentage that aren't bending."
In the meantime, Allen's focus has been on building his strength and speed back to presurgery levels or better. He said his knee is at about 85 percent.
Allen's other focus is his family. Mom Darlene, dad Jackie and younger sister Kelsey were on hand Wednesday morning, interjecting their anecdotes and questions into Allen's speech.
While training in Bradenton, Allen has spent most weekends back at his childhood home in Cape Coral.
According to his mother, who teaches business classes at Cape High, Allen has not let his newfound fame, nor his four-year, $5 million contract change him. His splurge purchases have been limited to a couple of watches, a new truck and recently a boat, which he uses while home in the Cape.
Allen rents an apartment in downtown Philadelphia, but his mother said he plans to make Lee County his offseason home.
"We're still conservative," said Darlene Allen, who admitted to accruing plenty of frequent flyer miles last fall - all of them in coach class. "This is his home, and it's always been his home. He doesn't want that to change. He doesn't want to lose the connection he has to this area."