Oregon receiver Devon Allen's rehab takes the cautious route
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Oregon's Devon Allen is not working toward just a football comeback, he's aiming for Rio, too.
The speedy receiver tore his ACL in the Rose Bowl and the No. 7 Ducks are taking the cautious route in his rehab, because after the football season he'll return to the track where he excels at the 110-meter hurdles.
Allen's ultimate goal is representing the United States at the 2016 Olympic Games. And a shot at a football national championship, because he missed the last title game, would be nice, too.
That's why paying close attention to his right knee is so important.
''I'm going to take it one day at a time, and see how I'm feeling,'' he said. ''If I'm feeling great, then I'm going to go out there and play. If not, then I'll continue to work to get back to 100 percent.''
Last year in fall camp, Allen was a redshirt freshman who had turned heads over the summer on the track.
First, he won the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA track and field championships. His surprising time of 13.16 seconds set a meet record, besting Olympic gold medalist Aries Merritt's mark of 13.21 set in 2006 for Tennessee. He also became the first freshman to win the national title in the event since San Jose State's Dedy Cooper in 1976.
It was the fastest collegiate time since Renaldo Nehemiah set the NCAA record of 13.0 in 1979 while running for Maryland.
Two weeks later, Allen won the same event - in the same time - at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships.
His impressive speed helped him win a starting nod opposite senior receiver Keanon Lowe against South Dakota in last season's opener.
Allen finished the season as Oregon's third-best receiver, behind Byron Marshall and Darren Carrington, with 41 catches for 684 yards and seven touchdowns - including an 80-yard TD strike from Marcus Mariota against Washington State.
But his season came to a sudden halt on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl victory over Florida State. He was tackled on about the 20-yard line and fell to the field clutching his right knee. He required surgery.
Allen missed the national championship game against Ohio State and sat out the track season and spring football practice. Now he's working his way back into form.
The Ducks will see the return this season of receiver Bralon Addison - who himself was sidelined all of last season by a torn ACL - but they're still awaiting word on the status of Carrington, who faces a possible half-season suspension after failing an NCAA-administered drug test during the football playoffs.
Marshall took on a hybrid running back/receiver role last season and led the Ducks with 1,003 receiving yards and six touchdowns.
As a result of the uncertainty surrounding Carrington and Allen, Oregon moved sophomore Charles Nelson back to receiver after playing him on the defense in spring practice.
When asked about Allen's status, coach Mark Helfrich said it's a wait-and-see situation.
''He's such a tough dude,'' the coach said. ''I have no doubt he'll do everything he can - and has done everything he can this summer - to put himself in a situation to be back out there.''
Not only does Allen need to be 100 percent to return to football, he needs to stay healthy during the season. He's aiming toward another NCAA title and another bid at the national championships - which next year serve as the Olympic Trials.
As added incentive, the trials will be held at Oregon's Hayward Field. The top three finishers in the event will make the team that the United States sends to Brazil.
But Allen doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself. For now, he's focused on his return to football and making sure he does it right.
''The way I've been doing this for the few years I've been running track and playing football and back and forth,'' he said, ''I've focused on football during football season and track during track season.''