CLEMSON -- Dwayne Allen says he "got in trouble" last fall for publicly declaring tight ends were under- utilized in the Clemson offense.

This spring, the redshirt sophomore has been the target of passes so frequently, coaches have asked Allen if he is paying quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Whether a coincidence or not, Clemson tight ends were targeted more after Allen's comments following the TCU game last September. Michael Palmer set a school record for receptions by a tight end (43), averaging four catches per game after Allen's comments, compared to 1.75 before.

And Allen might be more than appeased this fall, perhaps emerging as a feature player.

Allen appears poised for a breakout campaign, one in which it is conceivable he is the team's leading receiver. Before graduating, Palmer predicted Allen would easily surpass his records.

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier says Allen is a "dynamic" player, one who he will game plan around. And with the departures of C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, Allen might be the best returning offensive skill player, certainly one of the team's most important after the Tigers lost their three top receivers from last season.

"In terms of DNA, he's got it all," Napier said.

A part of the heralded 2008 class, Allen was regarded as Clemson's best tight end prospect since Bennie Cunningham in the 1970s. Allen was rated as the No. 3 tight end and 83rd best overall prospect by ESPN.

At 6-4, 260 pounds Allen has excellent size for the position, to go along with above average speed, athletic ability and hands.

While Palmer was an excellent possession receiver, Allen has the skills to be a threat in the intermediate areas of the field, too.

"He's a matchup problem," Napier said. "Dwayne has a set of skills maybe (Palmer) didn't even have. He's a tight end that runs like a receiver and has some of the best hands we have on the team.

"(Opponents) have to make sure they know where he is at, and not only that, he is a great blocker. He can become a dominant blocker, but I'd say he's above average right now."

Napier says Allen is adept at creating space in his routes. Allen said the way he uses his hands separates him from other tight ends.

"A lot of guys have speed, but they don't know how to use their hands," Allen said. "In this game, you gotta use your hands sometimes. Whether you are in man-press or you got a guy walling you, you have to use your hands."

While Allen has always had the athletic gifts, it was attention to detail and maturity that limited his snaps last season when Allen caught 10 passes for 108 yards, though three of the catches were for touchdowns. Despite those paltry totals, Allen finished just four catches short of Xavier Dye, who is the leading returning receiver.

Napier said Allen has made great strides in becoming a student of the game. Talk to Allen, and he'll discuss studying teams like the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots, pro teams he says use tight ends to maximum effect.

"He's finally maturing and coming into his own in terms of knowing the offense," Napier said.

Allen said he hasn't become complacent knowing a starting job was essentially assured with little depth at the position. Rather, he's driven to become what Clemson needs -- a new offensive star.

"I go out each day to try to become that (dynamic) player that when it's third-and-20, when most teams go five-wide, I'm still in there and they throw the fade to me," Allen said. "That's the type of guy I want to be."

And that's the type of guy Clemson needs Allen to be.

Reach Travis Sawchik at tsawchik@postandcourier.com and check out his Clemson blog at www.postandcourier.om/blogs/tiger_tracks.