Playing in all 13 games a season ago in the defensive tackle rotation, Allen made 15 tackles and added necessary depth that was lacking heading into the season. With all the defensive tackles back, Allen is expecting even bigger things with a year of experience under his belt.
Channeling his inner Mike Bruesewitz (i.e. letting his hair grow out like his fellow Minnesota native), Allen talks to Badger Nation about his progress.
Badger Nation: How was winter conditioning for you …?
Allen: It was really good. I felt like I got a lot of stuff done. I shed some pounds. I probably lost about 20 pounds, so I around 315. I feel really good.
Badger Nation: You were always a weight room junkie in high school. Was the last couple weeks as beneficial as your first season?
Allen: It's all been really helpful, but I didn't make many gains when I first got here because it was something new. It was a shock to the system. I think this offseason was really good for me. I spent a lot of time working on my conditioning and my body. I feel a lot stronger, faster and in better shape overall than I did last summer.
Badger Nation: What were some of the things you were able to accomplish over winter conditioning that maybe you weren't able to achieve last summer or during your time in high school?
Allen: My bench weight has probably gone up 70 pounds since I have been here. That's obviously something to be happy about. My squat has been good. I had a little bit of a hip problem for awhile, so I didn't squat during the season. I am really happy with my squat right now and I am going to continue to try and increase that. I am pretty happy with my numbers, but the thing I am most happy about is my weight and my endurance. I am trying to be able to play harder longer, which is obviously important.
Badger Nation: When you committed, you told me that one of the selling points was that you had a chance to play early. Some players say they prefer to redshirt and adjust to the speed and the strength. Having gone through it, did you enjoy playing last year as much as you thought you would?
Allen: Yeah, I am really happy that I played last year. I have no complaints. I think I got pretty significant playing time and above that, the chance to hang out with the older guys and practice with them more often was the most helpful. I could just watch and learn and they really helped me out. When you redshirt, you are with the scout team and don't have as much of an opportunity to work on your own stuff because you are always doing what other teams are doing. I think it really helped me grow as a player and be a little more mature. I consider myself more of a veteran now because I played.
Badger Nation: How have you and Charlie Partridge worked to take your game to the next level? What's been the big theme for you to continue your progression?
Allen: Specifically, and I know I always say this, but I am trying to tighten up my technique and make sure that my technique and fundamentals are perfect so I can make plays from there. Patrick Butrym always has great technique, and that's why he's able to put himself in the position that he's in. What I am trying to do is get that set and I think bigger plays and production will come from that.
Badger Nation: Is Butrym the perfect guy to film study on the defensive line?
Allen: Yes. I watch him for sure. His work ethic and his maturity makes him a good leader for us this year.
Badger Nation: Only losing J.J. Watt on the defensive line, what's the emphasis for this group going into this season that doesn't lose any seniors?
Allen: I know we are really excited because we believe the defense goes as we go. We are a really veteran group with a lot of talent and I really think the sky is limit for us right now.
Badger Nation: Going against the offensive line in camp and winter conditioning, they still seem like a really strong group despite losing three players. Who has impressed you so far from that group?
Allen: They are all really good. Weight room wise, Travis Frederick is really strong. Ryan Groy and Kevin Zeitler are really impressive. Dallas Lewallen is impressive, too. He was the scout MVP last year and I think he is going to be really good. I like going up against him. I really appreciate our offensive line. It may get really heated and intense in practice but off the field, they really make us better. It's good going against an offense that runs the ball with a strong, physical offensive line. It helps when you are lining up against a Minnesota, you know that they're offensive line isn't as good as the offensive line we go against during practice. That's comforting.
Badger Nation: What do you think the experience of playing in the Rose Bowl as a freshman is going to do for you personally?
Allen: I don't know. It's kind of hard to describe. As a freshman, I was at the highest level, at least nerves wise. I know if I got through that, I shouldn't be anxious or nervous for another game. It's hard to describe, but it's like I have been there and done that, so I should never get the jitters again.
Badger Nation: At the end of spring camp, where do you want to be physically and personally?
Allen: Physically, we are still lifting so I want to get my numbers up and get stronger. I think between 315 and 320 is the perfect weight for me. I just want to see intangible improvement. I want to see on film that I have fixed things from the start of camp to the end of camp. I am trying to get better every practice and see myself improving every practice.