NORMAN — For Drew Allen, the road to the NFL will be extraordinarily difficult after he struggled to get much playing time at both Oklahoma and Syracuse.
But former NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, who has been working with Allen, believes his pupil has what it takes after watching him make significant strides the past few months.
“He was a kid who was highly recruited out of high school,” Garcia said in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman on Tuesday. “Obviously there’s a talent level that’s already in place, that people were looking at. For whatever reason, it just didn’t materialize. It didn’t translate into having the college career that he would’ve hoped to have.
“But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road.”
Allen returned to Norman this week, where he’ll try to impress NFL scouts and coaches at OU’s Pro Day on Wednesday.
Allen didn’t take any snaps as an OU junior in 2012, and as a sophomore, he appeared in five games, completing nine of 16 passes for 71 yards in relief of starter Landry Jones.
He decided to transfer to Syracuse after it became apparent that he wouldn’t have a chance to become Jones’ full-time replacement in 2013.
Allen was named Syracuse’s starter at the beginning of the season, but lost the job after a couple games. He appeared in seven games at Syracuse, completing 55 percent of his passes for 666 yards, two touchdowns and nine interceptions.
“I’ve been through struggles and I’ve been through transitions,” Allen said. “It’s nothing that I wasn’t ready for. The only thing I can control is how I come to work, and I have no regrets in that aspect. Every day I came to work and gave it my best, and in the end, yes I did win the starting job, and it didn’t work out throughout the season. But I still feel like I benefited from going. I don’t have any regrets.”
Garcia points to players like Matt Cassel and A.J. Feeley as examples of guys who can have success as NFL quarterbacks despite a less-than-stellar collegiate career.
Cassel never started at USC, but has started 68 career NFL games for the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. Feeley backed up Joey Harrington as an Oregon senior but went on to an 11-year NFL career.
“Why did those guys get looks? Well, somebody believed in them,” Garcia said. “Maybe the eyes aren’t gonna be exactly on Drew at his Pro Day; there’s a lot of talent at Oklahoma. They’ll be looking at different players all over the place.
“But when he has that opportunity to step out there and go through his drops and throw the football, hey, let it fly. Show what you’re capable of doing, and hopefully somebody who is paying attention will see what you’re all about and bring you into camp and let you compete to make a spot on the team.”