All year I saw Michael Allan stand as a man amongst boys. Not just because he’s a whopping 6’6” 256 (that would’ve been reason enough, though), but more because at that size he’s still able to run like a gazelle and catch the ball as if there was Velcro attached to his hands. I’ve seen him take a slant route 80 yards, outrunning everyone on the field. I’ve seen him catch the fade in the endzone. I’ve seen him catch a 10-yard curl, turn upfield, knock a cornerback down with a stiff-arm and run over another on his way to the house. I even saw him score on a fake field goal, smiling the whole time before the ball was snapped because he knew he was getting six points.
Allan was the most dominating player at the Division III level last year, catching 53 passes for 1,100 yards and 9 touchdowns. He’s collected so many school, conference and national awards that you’ll have to go here and here to read them. But despite his domination of the D3 ranks, questions arose about how good Michael Allan really was. Was he just a big fish in a small pond or did he have the talent to play in the NFL? Part of that question was answered when he went to the East-West Shrine game after the season and had a terrific week of practice. However, in a league obsessed with 40 times, broad jumps and hand size, one hurdle remained for the small school product- the NFL Combine.
After training for weeks in New Jersey, Allan’s chance to prove he belonged with the best came Saturday morning at the RCA dome in Indianapolis. While the NFL Network cameras kept fans in on the action, the only representative from his division stepped onto the turf and put on a show. On the biggest stage possible, Allan put all his detractors in the dust, blazing an official 4.7 40-yard dash, putting up 225 pounds nineteen times, finished tied for 1st with a vertical jump of 36 inches and leading all tight ends with a broad jump of 10’3”. Earlier in the week Allan was a question mark. Now he was the media darling, getting glowing remarks from NFL Network’s resident Draft expert Mike Mayock, NFLDraftScout’s senior Draft analyst Rob Rang and countless write-ups on every major sports publication.
But what was it really like to be out there? Allan puts us in his shoes with a first-person view of the Combine experience.
Ryan Rigmaiden: First, congratulations! I thought you had a terrific workout and every scout and Draft service seems to agree that you did very well. Let’s start with what everyone talks about the most, your 40-yard dash time. You knocked out an official time of 4.71, an amazing time for a man your size.
Michael Allan: Thanks. I’m happy with the time, but also disappointed. I was running low 4.6’s the entire time while I was training, so I know I can run faster than a 4.71. I actually was blown dead on my first run, which I thought was the best start.
Rigmaiden: They didn’t show that on NFL Network.
Allan: I know. Something happened in the stands and he whistled me dead. After you train so hard and go through it as many times as I have, you know when you have a good or bad start at about 10 yards. I knew it was a great start, but heard the whistle and stopped. I was running 4.7’s in New Jersey and slowing down the last ten yards, so I know I can do better. What was weird is that you’re running through the stadium and it’s practically empty. It felt like slow-motion because there wasn’t anything by you while you ran.
Rigmaiden: You finished second to Miami’s Greg Olsen (4.47 40 time), who’s widely regarded as the #1 TE this year. How did he look?
Allan: His times were impressive and I think he separated himself from everyone.
Rigmaiden: Well, you may be able to do better, but scouts were buzzing about your performance just the same. The do the drills alphabetically, so you had to go first in each drill. Did that make you nervous?
Allan: I had so much training on all the drills that I wasn’t very nervous, just anxious to get out there and do them. The drill where we had to run routes was a little nerve wracking, though. I didn’t no what to expect at first, but did pretty well.
Rigmaiden: How did all the other players treat you? You being the only D3 guy there.
Allan: The other guys were really cool. They were actually impressed I was there and wanted to hear my story. As a group, we bonded pretty well.
Rigmaiden: You did 19 reps on the bench, 36 inches for the vertical jump and 10’3” on the broad jump. Do you remember your arm and hand measurements?
Allan: Yeah, my arms were 33 ½ inches and my hands were 9 1/8 or 9 ¼, I can’t remember which.
Rigmaiden: John Lott, Arizona’s strength coach, has made a name for himself while spotting players on the bench at the Combine because he’s so intense. What was he like?
Allan: Man, he was intense. He actually gave a pretty good pep talk before we lifted and made sure that guys who weren’t lifting had a good reason for it.
Rigmaiden: He has a tendency for giving nicknames like ‘Conan’ or ‘Bigfoot’ to players while they lift and also getting crazy to motivate you. Did anything like that happen to you?
Allan: He didn’t give me any names or anything, but he was intense when I was lifting. He was barking a bunch of stuff at me, but I can’t remember what he said because I was focusing so hard.
Rigmaiden: Vince Young had a tough time last year with his Wonderlic test. How’d you do?
Allan: I got through 42 questions, but I have no idea how I did. It was fairly easy stuff, but some of the math was abstract. I haven’t done that kind of math in awhile.
Rigmaiden: Teams are allowed to meet and interview with players for 15 minutes. What teams did you meet with and what did they ask you?
Allan: I met with all the TE coaches, but had full interviews with Philadelphia, Washington and Miami. It was just getting to know you, but Miami had a dry-erase board to draw some plays on.
Rigmaiden: I know in those meetings they’re known to ask some odd questions. Did they ask you anything strange or off-the-wall?
Allan: Yeah, the Eagles asked me who I would call if I was thrown in jail and was given my one phone call.
Rigmaiden: And? Who’s the lucky person to bail you out?
Allan: I told them I’d call my QB Joel Clark, but might call someone else if they had to come up with bail money.
Rigmaiden: You’ve got a point, there. No meetings with the Seahawks?
Allan: I met their TE coach Jim Lind and liked him. And obviously I’d love to stay in Seattle and play.
Rigmaiden: Really? That’s good to hear because I know the Seahawks will be looking at tight ends. Is that really where you want to play?
Allan: Yeah. I grew up a Dolphin fan because I was born in Ft. Lauderdale. I grew up a big Marino fan. And it’s kind of exciting not knowing where I’ll end up and then just pack my bags and go. But there are so many perks about staying in Seattle. My family is there and my two best friends just moved there. We’d even talked about getting a place together and being roommates.
Rigmaiden: Is that code for you buying a house and them living at your place?
Allan: Yeah, they can rent a room from me!
Rigmaiden: So what’s next? Do you have a personal workout scheduled?
Allan: Yeah, it’s March 13th at Whitworth.
Ryan Rigmaiden analyzes the draft for Seahawks.NET, Feel free to reach him here.