College Football: Elliot Allen a multipurpose threat for St. Francis
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media September 26, 2013 6:40PM
Elliot Allen has returned from a hamstring injury for St. Francis. | Dennis Nelson/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:38AM
A year ago, Elliot Allen was primed to win his third All-Mid-States Football Association award and lead St. Francis to the NAIA playoffs.
“Midway through training camp last year, I strained my hamstring, but it was no big deal,” Allen said of the injury, which also affected his back. “I tried coming back and it bothered me the first few games. Then, I felt like it was getting better. The fourth game, at home, I was out there warming up and my hamstring popped.”
The Minooka graduate was forced to sit out the rest of his junior year. This year, he’s returned with a vengeance, making up for lost time while taking down school records during his final year as a Saint.
“This year coming back has been a huge deal for me,” Allen said. “I’m only here four years and lost my chance at one of them. It’s changed my perspective of the game, that’s for sure. I’m looking at this, my last year, a little different.”
Allen, the school’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 3,264, will be a key performer for the No. 22 Saints (2-1) as they prepare for their home opener against No. 5 St. Xavier (2-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday at Joliet Memorial Stadium. The Cougars were an NAIA semifinalist a year ago and NAIA national champs in 2011.
“Elliot Allen is a huge threat every time he touches the ball,” Saints coach Joe Curry said.
Allen, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior, has career totals of 1,468 kickoff return yards, 1,277 receiving yards, 353 punt return yards and 166 rushing yards. He needs 77 yards to become St. Francis’ career kickoff return yards leader.
However, all those numbers and awards won’t mean much to Allen if the Saints do not return to the playoffs this season. In 2012, they went 6-5 and missed the NAIA playoffs.
“My goal this year is to get this team back to the playoffs and make a deep run like we did a couple of years ago,” Allen said. “This team is definitely capable of doing that. We have the same amount of talent as we did last year. We want to show everybody we’re capable of getting back to the playoffs and doing well.”
Two more receptions would give Allen 100 for his career. He’d be the sixth player in Saints history to catch 100 or more career passes. Two more receiving touchdowns would make Allen the program’s career leader in the category.
Things won’t be easy against the Cougars, who beat the Saints 31-3 a year ago. In that game, the Saints led 3-0 before the Cougars rallied to win for the 12th time in 13 match-ups. Allen is hoping for a different outcome Saturday.
“This game will show the country who we are and that we’re capable of making a playoff run,” said Allen, who has four kick returns for touchdowns during his career. “This will show we can play with anybody in the country.”