Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chip finally gets his Beau

NT Beau Allen
PHILADELPHIA - It took far longer than expected but Eagles coach Chip Kelly finally landed that 330-pound fish he set his eyes on five years ago.

Beau Allen first captured the attention of Kelly and his defensive line coach, Jerry Azzinaro, in suburban Minneapolis at Minnetonka High School, when the duo recruited the big man to play nose tackle for the University of Oregon. At the time Allen was rated as the top-ranked defensive tackle in the state
according to ESPN/Scouts Inc. and the fifth-best prospect in all of Minnesota, according to Rivals.

Allen, however, decided playing his college ball closer to home would be a better fit and chose to head east, hopping the border and ending up in Madison at the University of Wisconsin where his grandfather starred as a member of the UW swim team back in the 1950s.

Allen's decision proved to be a prudent one as he developed into a two-year starter with the Badgers while toiling in a school record 54 games.

A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Allen recorded 94 tackles, including 15.0 for loss, and 8.0 sacks over his final two years, being honored as an All Big-Ten honorable mention on both occasions and catching the eye of NFL scouts.

In the end, Allen proved to be a draftable commodity, landing with the Philadelphia Eagles, who took him with the 224th overall pick in the seventh round.

"It's nerve-racking as it is, but once you get down into the seventh round, you get a whole bunch of calls from different teams about free agency and stuff," Allen said.  "You can never give up hope about being drafted. You never want to abandon that."

The City of Brotherly Love, of course, happens to be the current home of Kelly, who left Oregon for the challenge of the NFL, and Azzinaro.

And neither forgot the big kid from Minnetonka.

"(Azzinaro) introduced himself to me at (Wisconsin) pro day and reminded me that he recruited me," Allen said. "I don't really remember too much about that -- it was a long time ago. But we just talked a little bit at pro day. He's an easy guy to talk to."

Seventh-round picks generally aren't guaranteed anything in the NFL but Allen landed in a place which desperately needs help at the nose tackle position.

Veteran Isaac Sopoaga started the 2013 campaign as the Eagles' starter at the position but quickly flamed out before being traded in-season. He was replaced by former LSU standout Bennie Logan, who flashed at times in his rookie season but at just over 300 pounds is a bit undersized to anchor the middle of
Philadelphia's 3-4 scheme.

Allen arrived in Philly 20 to 30 pounds heavier than Logan with much-needed experience as a starting nose guard in the 3-4 after Wisconsin changed fronts during his senior season. Previously Allen played the zero-technique in a 4-3 alignment for three years.

"I think I'm a prototypical size for a nose tackle," Allen said. "I think I play the game hard, and I like to think I'm a smart football player. I can learn the scheme, and I think those are important aspects."

Allen agreed to a four-year deal with the Eagles last Thursday and was on the practice field by Friday as Philadelphia kicked off its three-day rookie camp.

"I felt good about it," Allen said of his first taste of the NFL. "You have to learn the little nuances from taking reps. At the beginning of practice, I was lining up too close to the ball, by the end of practice, I learned you have to back off the ball a little bit."

Allen will begin his sojourn with the Eagles like most rookies, behind both Logan and another second-year player, Damion Square, on the depth chart.

He does have one advantage over most first-year NFL players, though ... Allen knows he's wanted.

"During the draft I was keeping an eye on the Eagles' picks because I secretly wanted to come here. Crossing my fingers is kind of an anxious thing to do, but it all worked out."
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