April 5, 2007 in Sports

Out of his league

Jason Shoot Correspondent
 
Christopher Anderson photo

Whitworth football standout Michael Allan works out at the school’s gym. He is hoping to be drafted by the NFL as a tight end.
(Full-size photo)

Through the years

Whits in the NFL

•Ken Sugarman was the only Whitworth player to be drafted in the NFL. The Baltimore Colts took him in the seventh round (92nd pick overall), but he chose not to pursue an NFL career.

•Paul Ward, listed as an offensive guard and defensive tackle, was an undrafted player for the Detroit Lions in the 1961 and ‘62 seasons.

•Wide receiver/safety Doug Long was a free-agent pickup for the Seattle Seahawks in 1977 and ‘78 and played mostly on special teams.

It wasn’t the bevy of talent at the college football all-star Shrine Game that grabbed Michael Allan’s attention.

“Just seeing those helmets,” he said. “If anything caught me off guard, it was looking across the line of scrimmage and seeing (logos from) the University of Miami, schools like that. Otherwise, I felt right at home.”

An NCAA Division III All-American at Whitworth, Allan will learn where his future home will be when he hears his name called during the NFL draft April 28-29 in New York City. Allan is a 6-foot-7, 242-pound tight end still learning his trade, but NFL teams witnessed his raw potential during February’s draft combine when he compared his marks against those of other, perhaps better-known tight ends.

Allan tied for second among tight ends in the 40-yard dash, recording a time of 4.71 seconds. That time trailed only that of Miami’s Greg Olsen, who could have secured a first-round selection with an impressive 40 time of 4.51.

“That was the most important thing, my ability to hang with (Division I) players and for me to have breakaway speed that some tight ends don’t have,” Allan said, noting he thought his time was a personal disappointment. “The whole time I was training, I was running low-4.6s. The first time, as good as it was to the scouts, I knew I could do better.

“The agility drills, I was doing better times the whole time before that. … Everything else was an average time or below average. I wanted every event back, but I was excited to be there. I was told I did a good job, so I was happy with what I did. But I’m a tough guy to please when it comes to myself.”

As a senior, Allan collected 53 receptions for 1,100 yards – a gaudy average of 20.8 yards per catch – and nine touchdowns. Initially recruited to Whitworth as a wide receiver, Allan’s pass-catching ability never was a question. To succeed in the NFL, however, Allan acknowledged he’ll have to become a more well-rounded player if he wants to earn playing time on Sundays.

“Blocking I can always improve on,” he said, adding NFL coaches and scouts told him he needs to work more on his flexibility in his hips and legs and staying low. “The issues I have are easily correctable.”

The class of tight ends in this year’s draft appears to be less top-heavy than in recent years. Until Olsen wowed scouts at the combine, draft prognosticators had him pegged for the second, or even third, round. Arizona State’s Zach Miller is the only other tight end likely to be taken by the end of the second round, and the class drops off after that.

“I’ve heard the third round, and that’s the highest I’ve heard,” Allan said of his draft potential. “But then I’ve heard down to the sixth or seventh. It would be so nice to go the first day. … Probably the reality is the fourth or fifth. That’s the more consistent answer I’ve been hearing.”

ESPN ranks Allan 12th among all tight ends in the draft, but the difference between him and others ranked above him is minimal. Teams seeking a pass-blocking tight end may not show much interest in Allan, but certainly others prefer tight ends who can bolster their passing game.

Allan said he has a workout scheduled with the Seattle Seahawks on April 13, and they could be a potential landing pad for Allan in the second half of the draft. The Seahawks recently disposed of oft-troubled tight end Jerramy Stevens and replaced him with veteran Marcus Pollard. Allan said he’s aware of Seattle’s situation.

“The impression I’m getting is Pollard signed a one-year deal,” Allan said. “It sounds like they’re thinking of bringing in a young guy, and they want to have a veteran for the first year of (the young player’s) career. The Seahawks sound like they need a tight end, and I know there’s a good crop of us.”

Born in Florida and someone who played high school football in Bellevue, Allan admitted he’s always been a fan of the Miami Dolphins and said being drafted by the Seahawks would be “unreal” and “pretty sweet.”

But beggars can’t be choosers.

“Obviously, the real answer is I don’t care,” he said. “Part of the real excitement is I know I can just pack up and go somewhere and spend the next three years of my life in a different city.”


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