Former Texas Tech linebacker Dakota Allen’s perseverance through adversity has landed him a spot in the NFL Combine.
Dakota Allen’s career at Texas Tech began as a promising one. The Red Raiders needed stability at the position, and he was, by all assessments, one of the cornerstone players in the 2014 recruiting class. Allen held offers from 12 schools, but it became clear that Texas Tech was where he wanted to play, and so, the three-star linebacker enrolled, with experts lauding his talents up and down the board.
Fast forward to the Summer of 2016 when Allen and two other Texas Tech football players were arrested on charges of burglary and gun theft, several speculated on whether this was the last we’d see of Dakota Allen.
Charges were dismissed, and the rest of that story is history, but it’s safe to say that Dakota Allen has created a legacy of an athlete who was able to make a triumphant return to fulfill the promises he had made to Texas Tech years prior.
Coming off his final and senior season at Tech, Allen has now accepted an invitation to participate and compete in the biggest job interview in his entire life, the NFL Scouting Combine. While this isn’t exactly uncommon territory for Texas Tech players, it is on the defensive side of the ball, making the stakes even higher, and the urgency for Red Raider scouts to build a true defensive arsenal under first-year head coach Matt Wells.
For Dakota Allen, the last few years have been an opportunity for reinvention, but you couldn’t watch a Texas Tech football game telecast without color commentators mentioning Allen’s backstory. Now he gets the opportunity to answer questions from all 32 NFL teams and set the tone for how he’ll be perceived and remembered in the National Football League.
After an injury last season, Texas Tech message boards were almost convinced Allen would sit for the rest of the season, but his commitment to the team quelled most of the rumors and should set the tone headed into the Combine.
The Texas Tech defensive unit as a whole last season made a few improvements, which included finishing No. 26 in the nation in red zone defense. With the NFL adapting to faster-paced offenses, Allen could be particularly useful in red zone scenarios. Allen is 6-1 and 235 pounds, which is slightly shorter than the prototypical NFL linebacker, although, that shouldn’t hinder any abilities.
At the end of Allen’s junior season, many wondered if he would leave Texas Tech and declare for the NFL Draft early, however, his decision to stay should have put to rest all fears from NFL personnel as to whether he had matured since the incident, and was ready for the big stage.
He’s cerebral, explosive, and a natural leader, so in terms of measurable statistics that scouts expect to see from Draft picks on Day 1, Dakota Allen fits the bill. Whether he’d be a Week 1 starter in the NFL is another story, as he needs to work on eying his targets with greater efficiency, and he can’t be afraid to hit or move around the field. If Allen can become more confident in his skills and stay healthy, he has a tremendously high ceiling in the NFL and could provide much needed veteran leadership down the line.
One thing that’s certain, however, is that when he was given another chance at EMCC, he learned very quickly things that take some athletes an entire lifetime to realize and grow from. With how Dakota Allen has learned to tell his story, NFL scouts and general managers can expect to interview a humble guy from Humble, Texas with a track record of working his tail off for people who believe in him.