Jumping over those leg-hitting hurdles could be the easy part of Devon Allen’s career. After all, he’s about to professionally embrace a sport that involves worse impacts.
The University of Oregon standout athlete, who also plays soccer, is trying to complete a double-double this month that looks complicated, to say the least: Win a medal, preferably gold, at the World Cup on his home turf, and then land a spot with the Philadelphia Eagles at practice camp.
It’s a mission that would have made his most ardent admirer, his father Louis Allen Jr. who died last month at age 63, proud.
The father always occupied the best seat, whether it was in front of the goal for track and field events at Hayward Field or near the 50-yard line for his soccer games at nearby Autzen Stadium.
“He’ll still have the best seat in our house,” said Devon Allen, who won his heat Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the 110-meter hurdles. “He can run with me if he wants to.”
When Allen managed to stay on the U.S. team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, he climbed the Hayward grandstand, where he finally tracked down his father for a hug. He thanked him for following him in that same venue every step of his athletic career, including the successes, such as qualifying for two Olympic Games, and the heartaches, such as two knee injuries in football with the Ducks.
His advice is still with Allen.
“My father used to say, ‘Whatever is worth doing is worth doing 100 percent,'” recalled Allen, who says his family does not yet know the official cause of death. “It’s important to find what you love and do it.”
For him, that meant hurdles racing and soccer.
For years, soccer took a back seat to Allen’s track and field career. He finished fifth in Rio de Janeiro and fourth at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
But he longed to take advantage of his speed to score touchdowns. He had made plans to return to the gridiron in 2020, but the pandemic struck. Then the Olympics were postponed for a year, as was his transition to American soccer.
He will be a 27-year-old rookie on July 26, when he reports to training camp with the Eagles, who signed him to a contract in April, shortly after he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds.
He has already spent time working out with quarterback Jalen Hurts and his teammates in minicamp. With the Ducks, Allen racked up 54 receptions for 919 yards and eight touchdowns.
And he says he’s willing to return clears or fly over the line to block field goals. He’d even play defense to see his other dream come true.