Arkansas’ Austin Allen might be toughest QB in college football

Arkansas-Austin Allen-quarterback-Alabama

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen walked off the field at Williams-Brice Stadium last Saturday with his right arm hugging his body. When an opponent from South Carolina reached out for a postgame handshake, Allen was forced to use his left hand.

It was clear that moving his right arm at all was uncomfortable, never mind mention throwing with it. After two years of enduring more than 125 hits behind a shaky offensive line, Allen seemed to be seriously injured.

The senior sustained the ailment as the result of a vicious hit from South Carolina defensive end Brad Johnson on the final play of the first quarter in the 48-22 defeat. Another hit on the Hogs’ final possession of the third quarter forced him from the game. In both instances, his offensive line had an immediate breakdown in protection.

The pain in his shoulder was evident through the second and third quarters. He changed his throwing motion at times, almost releasing the ball at a side-armed angle, as a result of the discomfort. He left the field with the front of his jersey stained green and a throwing arm he couldn’t lift without grimacing.

Allen is considered day-to-day ahead of Arkansas’ matchup at No. 1 Alabama this Saturday (6:15 p.m. CT, ESPN). An MRI on Monday revealed no structural damage, according to Allen. He was a limited participant in practice Tuesday.

“I like to think of myself as a quick healer,” Allen said. “I like to think I’ll be feeling pretty good by Saturday.”

If Allen can play against the Crimson Tide, it will be fairly remarkable.

This is a young man who couldn’t shake hands after the previous game. Yet none of his teammates or coaches doubt he’ll be taking the snaps against Alabama. They’ve seen him endure more hits than any FBS quarterback over the past two seasons, and he keeps bouncing back up and pulling himself together for the next play.

“He’s extremely tough,” Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos said. “Played through a lot of nicks and things. I would expect if he can go at all, he’s gonna be ready to go. Just the kind of player he is.”

Allen, a Fayetteville native, hasn’t missed a game due to injury since he began playing football in the second grade.

“It is what it is,” Allen said. “It’s my job. I signed up for it. Stand in there and make the throws and take the hits.”

That job has been especially difficult considering the circumstances. Because of that, taking the field banged up against the Alabama defense is an incredibly daunting task.

The Hogs almost certainly need Allen if they are to have any chance at staying competitive in Tuscaloosa. They may also need him to help preserve their future at the position.

The alternative is redshirt freshman Cole Kelley, who played ably in relief of Allen at South Carolina. But making your first start against the Crimson Tide isn’t the same as mop-up duty against reserves in a blowout loss.

Allen is accustomed to being knocked around by burly SEC defenders. That doesn’t mean Kelley’s has to be as well.

If at all possible, Arkansas needs Allen to be the man Saturday. For now, and for the sake of preserving the future.

The post Arkansas’ Austin Allen might be toughest QB in college football appeared first on SEC Country.

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