Published Monday, August 16, 2004
by Tom Glucksmann
From a bleach-blonde freshman who roomed with his main competition for the Florida Atlantic University quarterback job, Jared Allen has grown into a 23-year-old man about to embark on his first season of DIvision I-A football.
Allen actually turns 23 Aug. 26, but by that time he will be totally immersed in preparations for what he calls the toughest opponent FAU has ever faced.
A Sept. 4 date at Hawaii, which received 11 votes in Saturday?s AP preseason poll, looms.
And while it will be his first season playing 1-A football and against Sun Belt Conference opponents, it will be his final season of college football.
Sunday, Allen took his time coming back from lunch at one of the school?s cafeteria?s for pre-practice meetings at the Tom Oxley Athletic Center.
While he has always been confident and self-assured, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior is now not only one of the best players on the team, but one of its most mature.
He pointed to himself in a photo mounted on the wall of the Oxley center taken at the team?s first-ever practice there.
It didn?t look like him.
The player in the picture was baby-faced, wide-eyed and expectant.
Now long-time promises of I-A status have been fulfilled, something that Allen says ?means a lot,? and expectations have been realized.
Twenty-four touchdowns and over 3,000 yards in 14 games last year were career numbers for the Edmond, Okla. native.
Compare that to the six touchdowns and 1,185 yards he threw for as a freshman.
That was 2001, when the starting quarterback spot for the team?s first-ever game against Slippery Rock, was decided by a coin flip.
Allen lost the coin flip, and his roommate that year ? Garrett Jahn ? started the game.
Allen came in for the second half and started eight more games that year, including the Owls? first-ever win the next week over Bethune-Cookman.
He still keeps in touch with Jahn, who graduated last year and now lives in Arizona.
?I talked to him last week some time. He?s working over there. He?s enjoying it. He really is,? he said.
Allen says whatever numbers he posts this year don?t matter. He just wants wins.
He doesn?t just call Hawaii the toughest opponent FAU has ever prepared for, but also points at the next week?s opponent ? North Texas ? as equally as tough.
?They play a different style, but they?re really good,? he said.
The team should consider itself lucky that it brought in a quarterback like Allen in its first recruiting class.
He has mastered the system and made numerous receivers around him better, although Allen admits they?ve made him better too.
?I just need to put it in their hands,? he said.
After competition from Jahn and others in his first two years and then Danny Embick ? a transfer from West Virginia ? last year, Allen agrees that he is now entrenched at the position.
But he?s weary of becoming complacent.
He is carrying a light course load this semester academically and will graduate in December with a degree in Political Science.
After that he hasn?t ruled out playing professionally ? even in Europe. Coaching the sport he has played almost his entire life is also a possibility.
Judging by the career he?s had at FAU, most anything is.