It is not often two teammates are reunited after playing a good portion of their college career together but that is just what happened between the Houston Texans' Whitney Mercilus and, newly signed, Jeff Allen, who were teammates at the University of Illinois.
Both left Illinois after the 2011 season and both were selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, with the Texans taking Mercilus in the 1st round (26th overall) and the Kansas City Chiefs selecting Allen in the 2nd round (44th overall). This unique situation has the former roommates back together again after spending three seasons together in Champaign, Illinois.
“We chose each other. Me and Whitney came in together back in 2008 at Illinois,” explained Allen. “We kind of hit it off. We became friends and we’re still friends.”
Mercilus was all smiles when he discussed being reunited with Allen. When asked about his time with Allen as a roommate, Mercilus said:
“Jeff was a great guy in college and we just gravitated towards each other and especially on the field, just getting work with each other and stuff like that.”
Mercilus, in his final season with the Illini, led the country in quarterback sacks with 16, 9 forced fumbles, and he was named a unanimous All-American. That led to the Texans taking him in the first round and, over the past three seasons, he has been one of the top defenders for the Texans. Mercilus had a breakout season in 2015, where he totaled 12 sacks, marking the first time in his professional career he logged double digit sacks.
“I just remember how hard he worked,” said Allen of Mercilus in college.”You want to be around people like that because it rubs off on you. We learned a lot from each other.”
With a new season, both Allen and Mercilus have high expectations, with both expecting to contribute key cogs for the team.
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