Javorius Allen Kyle Yatabe

USC running back Javorius Allen, top, celebrates with teammate Kyle Yatabe after scoring a touchdown against Oregon State on Nov. 1. Allen has seen a more significant role in the Trojans' offense under Interim Coach Ed Orgeron. (Don Ryan / Associated Press / November 1, 2013)

Ed Orgeron removed his sideline headset during the final seconds of USC's victory at California last week and grasped hands with tailback Javorius Allen.

"It's been a loooong time coming," Orgeron sang heartily in his Cajun drawl.

"Change gonna come," Allen joined in, pumping the coach's fist.

Orgeron and Allen were reciting the words to one of Allen's favorite songs: Sam Cooke's 1964 classic "A Change Is Gonna Come."

Much has changed in USC's program — and for Allen — since Orgeron replaced Lane Kiffin in late September.

The Trojans have won three games in a row and four of five heading into Saturday's matchup against fifth-ranked Stanford at the Coliseum.

Allen's dramatic emergence from the bottom of the depth chart helped spark the turnaround. At Cal, for the second consecutive game, the third-year sophomore from rural Florida scored three touchdowns, all in spectacular fashion.

"Coach O feels where I'm coming from," Allen said. "We've got a great bond."

Before and after every game, Allen thanks Orgeron for the opportunity and for trusting in him. And he thinks daily about others who have done the same.

"I just want to thank God for putting me in this situation," he says. "And putting the people in my life like he did."


Javorius Donte Allen grew up about 20 miles northeast of Tallahassee, in the small town of Miccosukee.

"A country town," Allen says, chuckling. "As country as can be."

The second of three brothers, he spent most of his early years in the care of Rosa Brown, his maternal grandmother. Brown filled their trailer with discipline and love, demanding manners and respect for elders.

"I didn't have him," she says of Allen. "But he's my baby."

When he was small, Allen often played by himself, picking up pine cones and pretending they were footballs. He ran about the yard, making up scenarios in his mind.

One day, his grandmother looked outside, saw him running about and asked what he was doing. "I'm playing football," Allen said.

"Football? You don't have no ball," Brown said. So she scraped up enough money to buy him one.

"I took it to school," Allen recalls. "I took it everywhere."

Allen's world was temporarily shattered at age 12 when his older brother, Devon Brown, was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to prison.