The Cal pitch-and-catch duo of quarterback Zach Maynard and wide receiver Keenan Allen may have an advantage on the much-ballyhooed roommate combination of McCoy-Shipley, version 2.0. Well, the second version at Texas anyway.
If the Texas quarterback and his lifelong friend simply know each other inside and out, Maynard and Allen actually share the same blood -- they are half-brothers from the same mother. Golden Bears coach Jeff Tedford, for one, feels blessed that they are.
It wasn't exactly set in stone that Maynard and Allen would ever end up on the same team in college. In fact, at one point it looked nearly impossible. Maynard committed to play at Buffalo for Turner Gill in the 2008 class, when the younger Allen was just starting to light the recruiting world on fire. In 2009, Maynard was coming off his first season as the starter for the Bulls when Gill was hired to replace Mark Mangino at Kansas.
Meanwhile, Allen was one of the top-ranked recruits in the entire country and committed to play his college football for Nick Saban at Alabama.
When Maynard decided to transfer from Buffalo after Gill left, he suddenly had the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream to play college football with his younger half brother, who also happened to have the ability, because of his prodigious talents, to open some doors that might otherwise have been closed to Maynard, a former two-star recruit who threw 15 interceptions during his first season as a starter and notably struggled with his accuracy.
Allen de-committed from Alabama and the two ended up choosing California. While the Bears have a fighting chance against regional powerhouses likes USC and Oregon, going into SEC country to pull recruits the caliber of Allen is an extreme longshot, even for a recruiting juggernaut like Texas. By being willing to take Maynard, who was never guaranteed a starting job in Berkeley, Tedford was able to land a recruit in Allen considered the bluest of a blue-chip prospect.
Not a bad deal for Tedford, right?
The family connection has certainly helped Maynard recover from an inconsistent start to turn in some solid performances down the stretch. No small amount of that is due to the physical presence of the 6-3, 210-pound Allen, an incredibly gifted athlete who is still willing to do the dirty work as a blocker despite his youth. It could be scary for Cal fans to reflect on how things might have gone if Maynard hadn't had the previous comfort level with Allen.
Of Maynard's just more than 2,800 yards passing this season, more than 40% of those yards have been gained by Allen, who is adept at taking short passes and turning them into major yardage. Interestingly, though, as Maynard has become more consistent as the season progressed, Allens' numbers have decreased -- the big wideout went over 100 yards receiving in five of the first six games, but has not done so since.
For the Longhorns to come out of the Holiday Bowl with a victory, the defense will have to stop a connection that could be even stronger than that between the McCoys and Shipleys. And who would have thought that possible?