Skip to main content

Fully recovered from a knee injury, Oregon WR Devon Allen sets sights on his Olympic dreams

Oregon receiver Devon Allen is a two sport star, and is chasing his dream to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Tony Brooks-James first truly realized that his teammate, Devon Allen, was different at this year's NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Just 14 months after an ACL tear and two months removed from the football season, Allen bolted past the competition in the 60-meter hurdles to win a national title.

Brooks-James had played alongside Allen throughout the fall on the gridiron, and felt like he could compete with him. But, after Allen won his second National Championship in his short collegiate track and field career, it prompted Brooks-James to state, "Yup, he's track."

"I literally said that," said Brook-James, who also splits his time between football and track at Oregon. "On the track he's like, I don't know, he's unreal.

"Track is his calling."

Allen's continued to prove that this spring, one in which he hasn't participated in spring football in order to best prepare for a year in which competing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio is a possibility.

So, yup, Allen's not like the many other two-sport college athletes around the nation. Sure, there's always dozens of athletic college football players who show off their speed on the track in the spring, but few become Olympic hopefuls.

SCHNELL: Devon Allen discusses rehabbing his ACL, track goals

But, as former Oregon three-sport star Jordan Kent says, Allen "goes above and beyond the football player who happens to run track." As a true freshman, Allen raced past the projected favorites in the 110-meter hurdles in the NCAA Championships for his first collegiate crown.

He followed up that feat by winning the 2014 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in the same event two weeks later. In Kent's eyes, a superstar was born.

And Allen didn't simply showcase his track prowess, he became one of the Ducks' most feared threats on offense, finishing the 2014 season with 41 catches, 684 yards and seven touchdowns during Oregon's march to the College Football playoff title game.

But, Allen's Olympic goals came into doubt on the first day of 2015, after he fell victim to an ACL tear on a kickoff return in the Rose Bowl. The injury required surgery, and Allen's chance at duplicating his successful freshman campaign on the track was put on a year long hold.

Rick Bowmer/AP Photo

Image placeholder title

SI Recommends

Allen made it back on the football field by the Ducks' second game of the 2015 season, but his impact was minimal. In 12 games, he caught just nine passes for 94 yards, with it clear that his knee had limited him throughout the year.

However, his win in the indoor championships in March, in which he also set a school record, seemed to emphatically state that Allen was back.

If there was any lingering doubt, Allen has destroyed it in the opening stages of the outdoor season, winning six of the eight events he's competed in this month.

Allen said much of the early season success can be attributed to his absence from football. His days are much lighter, as opposed to the "football, then track, then class, then meetings, then homework" load he carried his freshman year during the spring. It also means he's getting more out of track practices for the first time.

"When I was doing football my freshman year, I wasn't really getting much out of the practices in track," Allen said. "It was like conditioning. Now I'm getting technical stuff."

Despite having the second-fastest American time in the 110 hurdles (13.4) this year -- the top three finishers at the U.S. Olympic Trials make the Olympic team -- Allen contests he's not at 100 percent yet.

"I'm starting to creep up there," Allen said.

He's creeping closer to reaching his Olympic dream too, which is becoming surreal for the redshirt sophomore.

"It's insane," Allen said. "My dad just sent me a picture, we had these goal cards that we put up on the refrigerator that said one-month goal, one-year goal, four-year goal. I was a junior in high school and I crossed it out, I put five year goals and wrote Olympic games. That's all I wrote, I didn't write anything for one year or one month, which some people might say is bad, but I was just so excited at the chance to run in the Olympics."

Allen knows there is plenty of work left to be done, and thinks he'll have to break 13 seconds in the hurdles to make the team. For now, though, he likes the place he's at, and is looking forward to competing on his home track, Hayward Field, in both the NCAA championships and Olympic Trials this summer.

Justin Wise is SI's campus correspondent for the University of Oregon. Follow him on Twitter.