One day, Arkansas back-up quarterback Austin Allen woke up and decided it was time to put all his effort into football.
Not that he didn’t have a good work ethic, but Allen (6-2, 205) just decided it was time to get more serious about his craft and take to heart what strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert was saying.
The fact that redshirt sophomore is just one play away from replacing his older brother Brandon at quarterback and the fact that the job will be truly open next year also played a part.
“I had to cut a few things out of my life that I knew just weren’t helping me to get how good I could get,” Allen said. “Just eating right, coming in and working out and doing exactly what Herb says and being the best that I can be.”
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema got a glimpse of the new Austin Allen when he came to his office to pick up something early on a Saturday morning this summer.
“When you automatically have two brothers in the same home, you think they are going to be the same, but then you realize how different two brothers can be,” Bielema said.
“Austin - in my opinion - from last fall to the spring to where we are now is probably one of the most improved players on our team. He has really trimmed himself down and that took some effort.
“I came over here at like 8:30 or 9 on a Saturday morning during the summer to give a tour and Austin was in the weight room doing a pretty heavy exercise by himself all alone on a Saturday.
“That kind of made a statement to me. I didn’t think he was going to be there.
“Through the first three days, his huddle presence, his accuracy, he has added about 10 yards to his deep ball. He had a really nice deep ball on day two.
“He is going to get more reps now just because we need to keep bringing that guy along and for us in recruiting to see where we are going to go for us down the line in the future.
“Obviously BA is done at the end of the year and it is who is going to come in as that next quarterback.”
Bielema continued to clarify his stance on Austin Allen, who played in five games last season and was 8-of-16 for 153 yards passing and also rushed for a touchdown.
?“I have never been disappointed in Austin, but as a coach I point out things and I don’t hold them back. I have a tendency to say things how they are and he may not like it. I got on to him about having a command and presence in the huddle.
“It is not easy being a little brother. I was a little brother and you just kind of stand in the background until it is your turn and I think that was probably happening for him a little bit his first year and he has his own identity now. His name is Austin for a reason and I think he is going to be really good.”
Allen, a four-star prospect who led Fayetteville to back-to-back state championships while being named the MVP in both games, has taken off 15 pounds this summer and turned it into lean muscle.
“I am probably 205 right now,” Allen said. “Probably the heaviest I got was 220 and I just didn’t like that. Talked to Coach Herb and he told me ways to get done and now I feel better and it has really worked out.”
Bielema said that his second-team quarterback has also added 10 yards on his deep ball.
“I guess so,” Allen said. “I don’t know about 10 yards, but I really feel like I have a lot more zip on the ball and throwing post routes and deep ball and it has really helped me out.”
Allen, who started in the Semper Fi All-American game along with current Razorback tailback Alex Collins, attributes his improved arm strength to new offensive coordinator Dan Enos.
“I credit that to Coach Enos,” Allen said. “He gave us a little workout to do four times a week throughout the summer. We did it and you can see it with all the quarterback out there and how much more zip we are throwing the deep ball right now farther than we have ever thrown it before.”
He clearly loves the new offense that Enos - a former Michigan State quarterback - has brought to the Razorbacks.
“I think it is more just maturity on my part,” Allen said. “Getting into the playbook and how much more I have learned Coach Enos’ offense in depth. I really enjoy his offense and how all the wording fits together and it has all really worked out.
“Everything just flows together a little better. If you see a formation, you know what play is going to be coming for quarterbacks because of how well he teaches it to us and how in-depth he really gets into it with us in meetings.”
He was happy to hear of Bielema’s praise for his work so far in preseason camp.
“I am just trying to work hard and I am glad he sees I am working hard and hopefully I can keep it going,” Allen said.
The younger Allen took over for his injured brother against Ole Miss and was 3-of-5 passing for 65 yards while finishing out a 30-0 win.
“I have always been confident in myself and what I can do and I am excited to get back out there and play again. Of course I want some more.
“I am going to prepare like the starter this year and I am only one play away and I want to always be ready for that moment.”
Austin was prepared to go in for a battered and bruised Brandon at Missouri in the regular season finale, but the older Allen stayed on the field.
“I wanted to be out there, but if I was in Brandon’s shoes I would have wanted to stay out there,” Allen said. “He’s a competitor, I’m a competitor and I would have been doing the same thing he was doing. You never want to come out of a game.
“I credit him with staying in and doing all he could, but of course I wanted to get in there and play, but it is all Coach B’s decision to go with whatever he sees fit.”
Allen believes the summer was good for the Razorbacks.
“Everyone has improved this summer,” Allen said. “We all worked hard and every one went into this summer with a little chip on their shoulder to get better and prove people wrong.
“That started with Brandon leading us and all the wide receivers and all the quarterbacks. It really has improved the whole team.”
Arkansas has been practicing at 2:30 in the afternoon and that happens to be the time the season opener against visiting UTEP will kickoff.
“I really don’t know the reason for it, but I guess it would be to get ready for that kind of heat,” Allen said. “We have all gone in there and really embraced the heat.
“(Former Razorback defensive end) Trey Flowers really instilled in us last year to not think about the heat and just go out and work hard every day.”
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