BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Thomas Allen remembers screaming on the field inside Spartan Stadium on Nov. 14, 2020.
He had dealt with his fare share of injuries in the past, so he knew something was seriously wrong on that cold Saturday in East Lansing.
"I remember screaming, knowing something was pretty messed up in my hip," Allen said. "Then the doc finally got it popped back in. I was able to at least think and know kind of where I was and my surroundings."
Allen was carted off the field, embraced his dad, head coach Tom Allen, and his teammates as he exited the field.
It was a season-ending hip injury, the same one that Tua Tagovailoa suffered when he was the quarterback at Alabama.
The injury isn't easy to come back from, and Tom Allen couldn't help but question if that was the end of his son's football career.
"The biggest thing I remember is the sick feeling I had in my gut when they told me what the injury was," Allen said. "My mind even went to, I don't know if that'll be it for him."
But from Thomas' perspective, you can only be a Division I athlete once, and he wanted to finish out his career with the Hoosiers on the field. He had talks with his fiancé, Annika Baez, who plays for Indiana softball, and Thomas had the support behind him to try to make a comeback.
Thomas even received a phone call from Tagovailoa about two weeks after he had the surgery. Thomas said he had a bunch of questions regarding the injury and how he was supposed to feel after the surgery.
"He was great," Thomas said. "It is a very rare injury. There's very few people you can ask about. Tua was very helpful to me, and I'm very blessed and fortunate for him to take his time to help me."
This past Monday, Thomas ran on the football field for the first time since the injury. He said it was painful and wasn't the best experience, but it was a big step for him in his recovery process.
This injury has allowed him to put things into perspective as well.
"It feels amazing," Thomas said. "This type of injury kind of humbles you. Makes you realize how fortunate you are to play Division I football in the Big Ten. A crappy run on the field is way better than not doing it at all."
As for what's next for Thomas, he's been able to start lifting and do lower leg stuff, but he's still about four months away until he's full-go. He's taking it day-by-day right now, going through the ups and downs, but he's pleased with how far he's come.
This injury has also allowed Thomas to get involved more with the coaching side of things within Indiana's program. He has always had interest in coaching because of his dad, and that is definitely an avenue he might consider after his playing career is over.
But as of right now, Thomas is working to get back on the field so he can join the loaded linebacker room that the Hoosiers have.
"We got a great group of guys," Thomas said. "We have four, five, we're creating six, seven guys that are able to play. That just helps everybody. Helps guys like Micah McFadden and Cam Jones... The sky's the limit."
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