Former Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Kyle Allen doesn’t quite fit the offense run by new Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman over the last few seasons, but should that matter?
The ‘Horns are set to have only three scholarship quarterbacks on campus this spring, leaving open the possibility that Allen could follow Herman from the Houston Cougars as a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining.
The looming question is whether Allen would be able to provide quality depth or compete for the starting job with freshman Shane Buechele, who turned in an ultimately flawed but record-setting performance in 2016.
In a worst-case scenario, Allen would push Buechele and provide a mentor to the young quarterback and 2017 commit Sam Ehlinger.
In a best-case scenario, Allen could fulfill the tantalizing potential he displayed in high school and at Texas A&M.
Just watch the highlights from Allen’s time with the Aggies.
Pocket presence, mechanics, arm talent, touch, quality athleticism in the run game.
Allen showed it all on big stages in college football already.
So what happened with Allen in College Station?
For one thing, the Aggies lost 97 starts along the offensive line heading into the 2015 season.
The former No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class competed for the starting job behind a suddenly-shaky offensive line, eventually winning out over incoming five-star freshman Kyler Murray.
Allen got off to a blistering start in 2015, throwing for 11 touchdown passes through the first five games, in addition to strong rushing performances against Nevada and Mississippi State.
During that stretch, Allen completed 64 percent of his passes for 9.2 yards per attempt and a 1.4 percent interception rate.
Not so bad, right?
In the sixth game against Alabama, Allen suffered a sprain to the AC joint in his throwing shoulder, resulting in a 50-percent completion rate and three interceptions. All three were returned for touchdowns by the Crimson Tide.
While attempting to play through the pain, Allen’s final 22 passes against Mississippi State the following week hit the ground or went for negative yardage. In all, Allen threw for 88 yards on 34 passes on the day — an abysmal 3.8 yards per attempt.
“I wouldn’t say I ever considered taking myself out of the Ole Miss game because it bothered me a lot more against Alabama than it did in the Ole Miss game,” Allen said. “And that game, I did not want to get taken out. I don’t think in my entire life I’ll ever consider taking myself out of a game unless there’s a bone sticking out of my body.”
In other words, it’s not hard to see the turning point in Allen’s career at Texas A&M or evidence of his toughness.
Once Allen regained some semblance of health after sitting out for two games, the resulting battle with Murray for the starting job resulted in the banged-up sophomore getting jerked around by head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Following a regular-season loss to LSU, Allen departed the program in December, then put Sumlin and the A&M culture on blast.
“I think the culture was a big part of it, and I think that stems from Johnny’s era there — the way that they let Johnny and [others] act there,” said Allen. “They [could] do that and still win games because they had Johnny … and five offensive linemen playing in the NFL right now.
“A lot of people were riding off that, ‘I can do whatever the hell I want and win on Saturday.’"
Allen went on to acknowledge that the team’s goals in College Station weren’t aligned — “Everyone was going this way, this way, this way,” he said.
Without even visiting Houston, Allen decided to join Tom Herman in the Space City after discussing his options with his parents.
"I just have a lot of trust in Coach [Tom] Herman. He had recruited me in high school [when Herman was at Ohio State]. I had gotten to know him extremely well. I know he can really help me grow as a man and get to the NFL."
Now Allen could be free to follow Herman to Austin — doing so would provide the new Texas head coach with a talented, experienced option capable of pushing freshman quarterback Shane Buechele.
And since Herman will likely install his own offensive system with the Longhorns, Allen’s experience in that attack gained over the lat year would at least result in a beneficial mentorship of Buechele, if not a legitimate chance to compete for the starting job.
Since Colt McCoy left Austin, the ‘Horns haven’t had a consistent starting quarterback. Buechele could well become that player and unquestionably had a sensational debut season on the 40 Acres, but previous coaching staffs have opted to pass on numerous options like Allen.
Bo Wallace. Nick Marshall. Jake Waters. Riley Ferguson. Jerod Evans.
The list goes on and on.
Maybe it’s time to do the easy thing and add quality depth and see what happens.
After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen?