INDIANAPOLIS -- After the 2009 season, his second at Oregon State University, punter Ryan Allen faced one of most difficult decisions of his life: to continue waiting for his chance at a school where his uncle starred in football and father played basketball, or find a place where he could make an immediate impact.
Allen chose the latter, and that has made all the difference as the native of Salem, Ore., readies for the 2013 NFL Draft by participating in this week’s annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Allen starred at Louisiana Tech and twice won the Ray Guy Award, signifying the nation’s top punter. Allen is the only punter in history to win the award in back-to-back years and joined former Baylor standout, Daniel Sepulveda, as the only players to win the Ray Guy Award twice.
“It was pretty amazing,” Allen said of winning the award twice. “It’s something my mom always preaches about, perseverance. Great things always come from persevering through deals, events, times in your life that aren’t as easy right away. Those are the times where something good is going to come if you stick to it. Even if you don’t hit your mark or achieve your goal, if you go at it 110 percent, you’re going to get something out of it.
“To know that I made that move, and it was for the right reasons, and I ended up doing something with it and being very successful, it’s literally the best feeling in the world.”
Allen said having to sit and wait at Oregon State was “rough” because it was not something he had to deal with in any of his previous athletic endeavors.
“Growing up, I never was a backup player,” Allen said. “All throughout high school, I played basketball. I played soccer my entire life and actually travelled to be on better teams and I’d always started. Being kind of a backup player was tough. I knew I was one play away from going in, but to not only do it for one season, but two seasons in a row, it was hard.
“I always had confidence in myself, but after two years, and you’re not used to that, you’re like, ‘Am I a legit Division I punter, and am I good enough to get a scholarship if I transfer?’ Those ideas come up in your head a little bit and they’re hard to ignore. After the second season, I knew I had gotten good enough to where I knew I could play somewhere else. I asked for my release papers, went and got reevaluated, did well, and through the transferring process, Louisiana Tech stayed pretty loyal. It felt right when I took a visit there.”
Allen punted 138 times for 6,059 yards and 58 of those kicks landed inside the 20-yard line during his first two years with the Bulldogs.
This past season, Allen earned consensus All-American status when he accounted for 2,162 yards on 45 punts, an average of 48.0 per kick, had 20 land inside his opponents’ 20-yard line, and had punts at or above 50 yards 21 times, including an 85-yarder in a 28-14 win at New Mexico State on Oct. 27, 2012.
“I’m very versatile in who I am as a punter,” Allen said. “I know my leg swing. I’m very good into the wind just because I hold onto the ball. I always preach directional, and if I need to put more emphasis on hang time and less on distance, I’m able to do it. I have confidence in every aspect of my game.”