Dependability, durability, versatility – three characteristics that lead to success in sports, as well as in life.
These three characteristics perfectly describe former San Diego State linebacker Russell Allen.
Although the first decade of the 2000s was often seen as a dark time for Aztec football, Allen was a consistent bright spot throughout his collegiate career, and is arguably one of the greatest linebackers in school history.
A standout linebacker at Vista High School, Allen chose to stay close to home when he accepted a scholarship offer from San Diego State in 2004.
After redshirting his first season, Allen proved his dependability and wasted no time getting onto the field. He played in all 12 games in 2005, starting seven times, and finished the season with 61 total tackles and two interceptions. Following the season, he was named an honorable mention freshman All-American by The Sporting News.
Allen didn’t slow down one bit the next three seasons, as he continued to be a dominant force on the defensive side of the ball. He finished his career as the third all-time leading tackler in SDSU history, recording 375 tackles over four seasons. He also holds the all-time record for total tackles in a game, as he tallied 22 tackles vs. Utah in the 2007 season.
In addition to his impressive stats, Allen displayed incredible durability. He played in 48 games over four seasons, never missing a game. He also showed versatility on defense, as he played multiple positions on the field. He lined up at both outside and inside linebacker, and even played defensive end at times during his senior year when several defensive lineman were out due to injury.
Allen was very successful on the field, but he also thoroughly enjoyed his time off the field at SDSU.
“My time at SDSU was great,” Allen said. “It’s a unique time in your life, and I miss being around my buddies everyday. It’s the only level of football where you spend all that time together and I bonded with my teammates a lot.”
Following his career as an Aztec, Allen found himself anxiously waiting to hear his name in the 2008 NFL Draft. Although he wasn’t drafted, the Jacksonville Jaguars signed him as an undrafted free agent shortly after the draft.
With the same hard work and determination that helped him become one of the greatest linebackers to ever play at SDSU, Allen made the Jaguars’ 53-man roster for the 2009 season, an impressive feat for an undrafted rookie.
But he didn’t stop there.
Now entering his fourth season, Allen is the starter at one of the outside linebacker spots, and it is a goal of his to keep that job for years to come.
“I’ve found my way into the starting lineup, and I’d like to continue that and be a full-time starter,” Allen said when talking about future goals. “First and foremost, I’d like to help my team win a Super Bowl any way that I can.”
In his three seasons in the NFL, Allen has tallied 136 total tackles, two forced fumbles and one interception. He says that the transition to the next level has been tough, but his time at SDSU prepared him well.
“The expectation level in professional football is so high,” Allen said. “Every day you are practicing to keep your job. It’s a high stress job, and you have to bring your ‘A’ game everyday.
“I leaned a lot in college that really helped me out at this level. We had coaches that knew football well and taught me the game. On top of that, I learned how to deal with adversity. You have to be able to come to work everyday and give your best even when things are down.”
Although being in a different time zone makes it tough for Allen to watch SDSU games, he still tries to follow the team as much as possible.
“I don’t get to watch a lot of the games because they aren’t always on television and they start really late,” Allen said. “I always want to know how they’re doing, though. I’m always checking the scores and stats, and following the kids as much as possible.”
For the legacy he left at SDSU and his continued support of the program, Russell Allen is truly an Aztec for life.