So how did Allen end up playing safety in the NFL? Along with quarterback, he also played safety in high school. In fact, he was so exceptional at that position that he had 90 tackles his senior year. Colleges far and wide were interested in him as a safety, including the Florida Gators. Only smaller programs such as South Florida, Iowa State and Eastern Michigan had any interest in him as a quarterback.
"I was not what you would call a prototype quarterback - a 6-5 pocket passer," says Allen, 24, who is listed at 6-1, 210. "I did not have a cannon arm. I had a good arm. I could throw downfield 65 yards. But I never had a quarterback coach. We played out of a spread offense - a shotgun - and I would scramble out of the pocket and either run or throw the ball. I probably threw 25 to 30 passes a game. We had a good group of receivers."
Allen adds, "I would just see somebody open and throw it."
"That boy never came off the field," says Darlene Allen, his mother. "I have no idea how he played both quarterback and safety. But he was always driven. He started in basketball for 4 years, was National Honor Society scholar and homecoming king."
Initially, Allen had aspirations to play quarterback in college. It was why he attended South Florida, where coach Jim Leavitt told he could play the position. But when Allen showed up that summer as a freshman, Leavitt called him into his office and told him: "You can either redshirt as a quarterback or I can get on the field this year as a safety." Instead of sitting out a year, Allen chose to play safety. When he is asked if having played quarterback has helped in some way as defender, he says: "Not much. I was just playing on talent."
Does Allen ever daydream about what it would be like to play quarterback in the NFL?
He smiles. "Oh sure, but I could never do it at this level," he says. "Up here is a whole different game."