Supersize Me

Sophomore Ferbia Allen, once lanky and inexperienced, looks the part of an SEC tight end these days. Read about it inside.

Ferbia Allen didn't expect his chance at playing time to come so soon.

He was a redshirt freshman last season, both lanky and inexperienced. Ole Miss featured veteran tight end Gerald Harris, who took Allen under his wing on the off chance he was forced to sit due to injury or blowout wins.

Despite a 6-foot-4 frame, Allen weighed only 230 pounds. He admits to needing extra time in the team's strength and conditioning program to add weight, for his size was sure to not hold up against SEC linebackers and defensive ends.

But soon enough, Allen was thrown into the proverbial fire. He drew first reps in the season opener against Memphis, and ended up starting five of 13 games in Harris' absence due to lingering injury.

He finished the year with 13 catches for 160 yards. Better yet, he gained invaluable experience under the tutelage of Harris.

Ferbia Allen

"He helped me out with so much – blocking, running routes," Allen said of Harris. "He stayed up late with me night after night. He went over plays with me and made sure I was ready for the next year after he left. He helped me out tremendously."

Now three weeks into spring drills, Allen is the undisputed starter. He enters his sophomore season as one of few options at the position, considering fellow sophomore, E.J. Epperson, was moved to fullback.

"It's a big responsibility," Allen said. "We had a great tight end in Gerald Harris. He was my best friend last year. It's just a big change for me. I just have to step up and help out the best I can."

Allen looks the part these days. He's added 15 pounds and isn't as easily pushed around.

His confidence grows with each practice, too. He says he's "more dominant" with the extra weight, and is planning to pack on more by the time fall rolls around. He currently stands at 245.

"It was a big accomplishment for me," he said of gaining weight. "I'm stronger and have been more dominant on the field. I can feel myself getting more push than last year."

Ole Miss special teams/tight ends coach James Shibest has certainly seen a difference in his young tight end. Same goes for his other candidates for playing time in 2010.

James Shibest

"Ferbia Allen has been awesome. Really good," Shibest said. "We're really happy with Ferbia. Reggie Hicks is doing a good job for us. We're giving him some movement and he's handling it well.

"All of them are catching the ball well too. We hope they will progress to the point where they can be a bigger part of the passing game."

The Pine Bluff, Ark. native has often found success this spring, especially as a red zone option for current first-team quarterback Nathan Stanley.

However, he's also experienced his share of struggles. Allen and company are matched against a talented Rebel defense daily, making offensive consistency anything but routine.

"It's hard, because I feel like we have one of the best defenses in the SEC," Allen said. "It's good for us. If we go against someone real hard, when it comes to playing other teams, it should be easier for us. I know we're young and don't have a lot of confidence, but I feel us building up on that."

OM Spirit Top Stories