By his own admission, University of Oregon football coach Mark Helfrich grows emotional when he thinks about Devon Allen.

Allen, the Ducks' sophomore wide receiver, had torn his anterior cruciate ligament in Oregon's 59-20 rout of Florida State in the 2015 Rose Bowl.

A little more than a year and a half after his freshman football season ended in Southern California, Allen will represent the United States in the 110 meter hurdles at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

"I was tearing up that night, and I get misty every time I sit down and think about it for a while because he’s such a good dude," Helfrich told the Register Guard of Eugene, Oregon. "First of all, great family, great representation of who he is, our university and now our country.

"To be represented by that kid, that’s a lot of good things happening."

Allen qualified for the Olympics by finishing first in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in 13.03 seconds on July 9 at Hayward Field on Oregon’s campus, according to the university.

"I'm excited for him. Especially after his injury, it’s well-deserved," Oregon teammate Royce Freeman told the Register Guard. "He worked hard to accomplish that, and I really couldn’t think of anybody more deserving than that guy after his injury.” 

Allen is the only active NCAA football player to compete in the 2016 Games. But he’s not the only college football star to represent his country in Olympic competition.

Jahvid Best starred as running back at the University of California, then played two seasons with the Detroit Lions before retiring due to post-concussion symptoms. He will compete for Saint Lucia in the 100 meters.

"It's hard to describe how I feel right now," Best told the Marin, California, Independent Journal. "When I think [about] the road I have traveled to get here I get tons of emotions. A couple of years ago my lifetime dream was crushed. I was devastated, but I never stop dreaming and believing in myself. My family has instilled a lot of values that has enabled me to persevere through it all."

Best is the first NFL athlete to compete in the Summer Olympics, according to NBC Sports. Herschel Walker became the first NFLer to participate in the Olympics as a member of the U.S. bobsled team in 1992. That team finished seventh.

Allen and Best now have an opportunity to do something that eluded the epochal Walker: Win an Olympic medal. 

"This is a huge accomplishment for me, but at the same time this is just the beginning," Best told the Mercury News. "I have only been in this sport for two years professionally, and plan on being around for a long time. Above all else I'm excited to get out there and make my country and family proud."

Contact Us