The last few months have been nothing short of spectacular for Oregon track and field freshman-sensation Devon Allen. In 2014, Allen has both made a name for himself and solidified his place in University of Oregon history as a star hurdler for the men’s track and field team.
Allen finished second at the Pac-12 Track and Field Championships in both the men’s 110-meter hurdles, and the men’s 400-meter hurdles. In the following weeks, he went on to win national titles in the men’s 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Division I Track and Field Outdoor Championships, as well as the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships.
This made Allen the first collegiate athlete to win both the NCAA national title and USATF national title in the same year since Renaldo Nehemiah in 1979. His national title winning time of 13.16 seconds set an Oregon school record, and is the second-fastest collegiate time ever in the 110-meter hurdles.
After an incredible 2014 track and field season, Allen is also looking to be a key contributor to Oregon’s high-speed offense in the 2014 football season. The two-sport athlete began his 2013 year as a redshirt freshman wide receiver on the Oregon Ducks football team. While redshirting for the season due to injuries, Allen made effective use of his time on the practice scout team, impressing his coaches with his dynamic speed and ability to catch the football.
Allen has also been productive as a receiver during this year’s spring and summer practices, and has a good chance of being a factor in the team’s offensive production this fall.
In a recent phone interview with FishDuck.com, Allen spoke about his success and future plans as a Duck in both football and track:
FishDuck: So, you’re coming right off of your victory in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships. What was that experience like for you? And what was it like to win the USA national title at age 19?
Allen: It was great to be able to run against some of the best runners in the world. There were former world champions and former USA champions in my heat, so running against them was a very cool experience. To win so young felt great, but it really just made me feel excited to get a lot better in the future.
FishDuck: When you won the NCAA title at the NCAATF Championships at Hayward Field, it was one of the loudest races of the entire four-day meet. How did the feeling of that NCAA Championship win compare with your USATF Championship win?
Allen: It was awesome to win the NCAA national title in front of the home crowd. I think one reason it was so loud is that it surprised a lot of people that I won the title. I wasn’t technically expected to win, so it surprised a lot of people when I did. But it didn’t surprise me. I felt good and I was ready, and it was a great feeling to win like that in front of the home crowd at Hayward.
FishDuck: You started out the 2014 outdoor season running around 14 seconds flat in the 110 meter hurdles. You improved each meet and finished the year winning the NCAA and USA outdoor titles. Were there any significant changes in workouts, techniques, mentality or anything else that you feel helped you improve?
Allen: There were a few things. I was still coming off of injuries from football at the start of the season. Once I was able to get into better shape, things started to pick up. Also, training with my teammate Jonathon Cabral every day was a big factor. He’s one of the best hurdlers in the country and being able to train and compete side-by-side with him truly made me a lot better.
FishDuck: Along with you emerging as a national track star this year, you are also a wide receiver on the Oregon Ducks football team. Did you enjoy your experience as a redshirt freshman on the team?
Allen: I enjoyed it a lot. At the start, I didn’t want to redshirt. But with the injuries I had, the coaches and I agreed that it would be the best decision for the year. Also, I still needed to learn a lot about college football. I needed to get the tempo of the game down. I got a lot better, and I feel like I’m definitely ready for this season.
FishDuck: So, you’re coming into the football season off of two national titles of your own. What do you think are the chances of you and the Ducks winning a national title in football this year?
Allen: We definitely have a good chance. We’ve got a stacked team with Marcus [Mariota] and other great athletes returning this season. And I feel that I can say that, being around the guys each day and seeing how hard they work and how they continue to improve. If we do what we need to do — and what we should do — then we can definitely compete for a national championship.
FishDuck: With your recent NCAA and USA title victories, and record-setting time in the 110 hurdles, are you at all beginning to consider leaving school for a professional track career? Or are you still focused on competing in both sports as a Duck for the rest of your college career?
Allen: I’m focusing on playing both sports. I really love football. If I do go pro in track, I still want to experience a full college football career before I do that. I’m in no rush. I love football, and I believe that professional track opportunities will still be there for me in the future.
Allen seems excited about his future as a Duck, and has repeated that he’s in “no rush” to pursue a professional track and field career. As of now, he is focused on being a key factor for both the Oregon Ducks’ football team and mens’ track and field team.
And after establishing himself as a national competitor and freshman phenom in 2014, it will be interesting to see how he will respond next year when these types of performances are regularly expected from him. Overall, though, Allen seems up for the challenge.
Main photo by Eric Evans/GoDucks.com