Behind a Heisman Trophy candidate in Boykin, who capped his tenure with TCU as a four-year starter for the Horned Frogs at quarterback, Allen switched to wide receiver before he transferred
Now in the middle of a quarterback battle at Rutgers, Allen takes what he learned from Boykin and the experience as a whole into his fresh start with the Scarlet Knights.
“Trevone Boykin was an awesome individual along with being a football player,” said Allen, who attempted just two passes in three years at TCU. “It was awesome to get to sit behind him for a few years and learn how he approaches practice, approaches every game. The preparation he does and just how he sees the game … he kind of makes me want to play like him and be able to do everything that he does, and be a leader and just be an individual that works hard no matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s mowing the grass or playing a football game, you’ve got to give it 100 percent.”
After the move from Texas to New Jersey, Allen adjusted to the new setting on the fly.
To his new head coach Chris Ash, the seamless transition on and off the field stems from Allen’s personality.
“Well, I think it starts with just who Zach is,” Ash said. “Zach is a high-character individual. He’s very intelligent. He’s easy to get along with. He’s fit in well with the rest of the team. He’s a likable individual, and he’s got a comfort level of playing in a spread offense. This isn’t a completely different offense for him. So his comfort level with the offense is a little bit different than the other players.”
Past his compatibility to the team early on, the familiarity with the spread offense is a plus. Offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer echoed Ash’s take on Allen from the perspective of his impact on the competition in the quarterback room.
“We have a great group of guys and I put a lot of pressure on them to do their job and do it really well, so I think they’ve bonded and meshed as a unit and they take care of each other better than they did in the spring, which is very, very encouraging,” Mehringer said. “You want to create a small unit cohesion … so they’ve become friends. The incorporation of Zach Allen into the room has been good, I thought. It’s created a tighter bond, which, I’m not going to say surprised me, but was obviously welcome from that standpoint.”
While both Chris Laviano and Allen continue to learn the ins and outs of Mehringer’s scheme, Allen called it a work in progress.
“If you have questions in practice, you ask coach Mehringer,” Allen said. “He’s very helpful, insightful, he knows what he’s talking about, knows exactly what to do. There’s certain rules that we need to do and if we don’t do those, he kind of gets mad at us and tries to correct us and asks what happened, why did we do this. So it’s a good learning experience and good thing we have a lot of practices left to try to fine tune everything and get everything rolling.”
Two weeks remain in training camp. The opportunity is there for Allen to make his case. But until a decision is made, Allen wraps his attention around one focal point. Ash and Mehringer told Allen the expectations when he first visited in June, and it remains unchanged.
“Coach Mehringer and coach Ash, when they brought me in they told me they wanted me to be a leader,” Allen said. “Being a leader is the No. 1 thing you need to do along with being a game manager. They tell us everyday, you don’t have to do anything crazy — you don’t have to make spectacular plays. You just have to be a game manager, get the offense in the right place, get the offense in the right situations, be able to make the right protections on third downs, not take any sacks, not turn the ball over. Just the simple things a quarterback has to do. I think whoever does that best has the best chance to be the starter.”