Oregon's Devon Allen: Hurdler in summer, receiver by fall
EUGENE, Ore. -- Devon Allen has quite a tale to tell about what he did over summer break.
In June, Allen won the NCAA championship in the 110-meter hurdles. Two months later, he's won a starter's job at receiver for the No. 3 Ducks.
Allen, a redshirt freshman, will start along with senior receiver Keanon Lowe when Oregon plays host to South Dakota in the opener on Saturday night.
"What I did over my summer vacation?" Allen laughed when posed the question in fall camp. "A lot of sports. I ran fast. I enjoyed myself. And I got to travel a little bit."
Allen's track talent ultimately helped him move up the depth chart. And that's saying a lot, because the Ducks are all about fast.
"He used his speed, " Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota said. "He was able to beat his guy, his matchup, all fall camp. We're going to have to be able to use that guy. He's a special talent for us and he's going to make big plays for us."
His time of 13.16 seconds in the hurdles at the NCAA Championships set a meet record, besting Olympic gold medalist Aries Merritt's mark of 13.21 set in 2006 for Tennessee. Allen is the first freshman to win the national title in the event since San Jose State's Dedy Cooper in 1976.
He leaned in to finish two-hundredths of a second in front of USC senior Aleec Harris, then thrust his hands into the air in victory -- prompting a standing ovation from the home crowd at Oregon's Hayward Field.
It was the fastest collegiate time since Renaldo Nehemiah set the NCAA record of 13.0 in 1979 while running for Maryland.
On top of that, Allen's victory in the event propelled the Ducks to the team's first national championship since 1984. Top-ranked Oregon finished with 88 points, 18 ahead of runner-up Florida.
At the time, Ducks track coach Robert Johnson was as surprised as everyone else at Allen's victory. All the Ducks needed at that point to win the team title was a point -- which Allen would earn just by finishing.
"I say to myself as soon as the gun goes off, 'Just get through the hurdles. That one point will be our 24th point and I don't care what they do after that,' " Johnson said. "Then he passes me, I'm sitting at hurdle six, and he's probably in third. Then I look at the monitor and he's in second, and then he runs off that last hurdle better than most."
There were questions at receiver for the Ducks going into camp.
Josh Huff, who set an Oregon record with 1,140 yards receiving last season, graduated along with fellow receiver Daryle Hawkins. De'Anthony Thomas, who played at receiver and running back, left school a year early to go pro.
The Ducks were also hit when Bralon Addison was hurt in the spring. A timetable for Addison's return has not been set.
Allen competed with a group that included Lowe, as well as sophomores Dwayne Stanford and Chance Allen. Basketball player Jonathan Lloyd, who had an additional year of eligibility outside of hoops, was also in the mix.
In addition to Allen and Lowe, Stanford and Darren Carrington are listed as co-starters for the third receiver spot.
"It's the most depth we've had at receiver in a long time," offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. "Some of the talented guys we have are very young, so inevitably there might be a mistake or two, but they're really talented, too, so we're trying to bring them along as fast as we can."
Allen said his track experience as a true freshman helped him be ready for football. He got dinged up in fall camp last season and redshirted his first year in football.
"I know it's two different sports, but it gave me confidence to just compete," Allen said at media day. "People always think about these teams as big powerhouses. And they are just college students, just like me. It's the same way in track."
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