Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen excited about East-West selection as Liberty Bowl workouts continue in prep for Kansas State

Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen revealed after Wednesday night's practice his invitation to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game. The Razorbacks went through their fourth practice ahead of a Liberty Bowl date with Kansas State.

Brandon Allen wasn't sure if it was the time or place, but the Arkansas quarterback couldn't help himself when reporters asked Wednesday night if there were any post-season options past the Liberty Bowl.

"I don't know if I'm supposed to say, but I've accepted an invitation to play in the East-West game," Allen said. "I don't know for which team and it doesn't really matter. I'm excited."

That news followed the release of the first of the All-SEC teams, selected by the coaches. Allen was passed over with Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) making first team and Chad Kelley (Ole Miss) named to the second.

"I know those are both very deserving," Allen said. "I can understand their selections. They are very good quarterbacks."

Allen will play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game on Jan. 23 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The game will start at 4 p.m. The NFL Network will telecast the game.

Allen dropped that nugget when asked by reporters if there was any news about an all-star game, either the Senior Bowl or the East-West.

"I haven't heard anything from the Senior Bowl," Allen said. "I accepted the East-West invitation."

Does he think he has an NFL future?

"I don't know, but it's always been my ultimate dream," he said. "Playing in one of those (all-star) games helps you not so much because of the game but because you are practicing in front of NFL teams. That's the real part that helps you."

Frst, there is one more Arkansas game for Allen. The fifth-year senior said everyone is looking forward to the Liberty Bowl, but a long way from prepared for a game. Sitting out for over one week after the regular-season finale with Missouri has hurt the rhythm. There's also been more work for developmental players than the starters in the four practices to this point.

"We are starting to get more (reps for the starters)," Allen said after Wednesday's workout. "But we are rusty. You could see that. We were better on Sunday and better tonight. But we still have some things to clear up. But we have a lot of time to do that."

There has been nothing as far as Kansas State preparations. Allen called it "Arkansas on Arkansas" in all of the workouts to this point. But the players have begun to watch Kansas State tape.

"We've got enough time to do a thorough job of preparing for Kansas State," he said. "You have to make sure to put in the time over the next few weeks and hit everything, but we will do that.

"I've seen some of it. Kansas State is very hard nosed. They don't do a whole lot (on defense), but they do everything well.

"They have two seniors in their secondary. There is a freshman corner, but he is very good. They are solid. They don't play a lot of press man, but there is some and they do a good job of mixing things up."

 There was other news on the day, Sebastian Tretola shared the Jacobs Award, the SEC's player of the year for the offensive line. Alabama's Ryan Kelly was the co-winner with Tretola. Tight end Hunter Henry was given the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end.

Tretola was named first team All-SEC by the league’s coaches earlier this week and is the third Razorback to win the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. Jonathan Luigs was a co-recipient in 2007 and Shawn Andrews won it outright in 2002 and 2003.

Tretolat was unavailable for interviews, participating in a graduation ceremony prep meeting. Dan Skipper, another All-SEC Razorback, took his place with the media. The junior from Denver, Colo., said it was a well deserved honor for Tretola.

"He's been so good and he's also been a great leader for us," Skipper said.

Asked if he had settled on his plans for the future, Skipper said he hadn't given much thought to anything past finals and a tough genetics class and the Liberty Bowl. Coach Bret Bielema said there were five juniors who submitted paperwork to the NFL. Skipper wasn't aware of that.

"I really hadn't given any thought to that," Skipper said. "Coach Bielema haven't talked about any of that. There's lots of time to talk about that kind of thing. I'm really working on genetics right now."

Skipper said he still had 20 hours of work left to obtain his degree.

The 6-10 right tackle did discuss other topics in depth, including why the Hogs started slow with a restructured offensive line. He was playing the third position in three years after playing guard and left tackle his first two seasons.

"We had to learn some things, like to handle a heavy box in our new positions," Skipper said. "There were things each one of us had to do to prepare. You had to learn if you needed more tape study, more sleep or whatever it took to get right as an individual. It might be different for each guy and you have to figure that out.

"I think it was just developing as a unit. It takes time. It takes time to get it all right. We did that. I think what you saw is that the passing game helped the run game. Then, the run game helped the passing game. All those things work together and they did for us. I think that's always the case."

Allen was glad to see his teammates honored.

"You could see it coming," he said when asked about Henry. "He had it all. He was so good as a receiver, and a guy who you could depend on for third down plays and he was such a good blocker, too. I saw some of the tape they had for him, making third down catches. You could depend on him to be open and make the play."

Allen smiles when his offensive linemen are honored. He spoke about them when Bret Bielema called seniors to the front of the room for the meaning of Thanksgiving. Some talked about their parents, but Allen mentioned his blockers. He said it's always on his mind that they have his back. He laughed about trying to take care of them last spring with a trip to a Chinese buffet.

"I took them to eat," he said. "I knew to make sure it was a buffet."

Skipper said it was more than just the starters in the offensive line. Skipper said he figured it was an expensive lunch for Allen even for an all-you-can-eat deal.

"One day Brandon just said, 'Boys, we are going out to eat,' and he took all of us to the buffet," Skipper said. "It was interesting when we came in the door. Someone said something."

Basically, what was said, get the cooks busy because the football team came to eat. It was a fun day.

Skipper said these are fun days for the team, too. But they know what lies ahead.

"We know about Kansas State," he said. "Coach B knows them well. So does coach (Michael) Smith. They are going to give us tips on Coach (Bill) Snyder. I think Coach B spent time with the Kansas State coach to start his career. He does a lot of things the same way. You learn from someone like that, so he will have some things for us."

Allen said there hasn't been discussion of Snyder yet. But he knows that's coming.

"All I've heard so far has been from Coach Smith," Allen said of the UA receivers coach, a Snyder product as a player and coach. "Coach Smith knows some of their players. He goes back a ways with some of them all the way to their recruitment. He said he'd give us some tips."


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