Ring of Honor Feature: David Allen

By: Jack Mosimann

Sports Information Student Assistant

“Allen eludes the first Longhorn, gets up field to the 30, Allen to the 40, has some room to midfield, Allen to the 40, Allen down the sideline to the 30, Allen to the 20, 15, 10, 5, touchdown.  Oh he did it again!”  - Greg Sharpe, former “Voice of the Wildcats” in 1999 against Texas, tying NCAA record of Johnny Rogers and Jack Mitchell for seven career touchdown returns.

If you were a star football athlete at Kansas State, what would you want to be remembered for?  To David Allen, there was more than returning seven punts for touchdowns and being an All-American.  To him, it was being an all-around good person. 

“Outside of football accolades, I really tried to emphasize being a great role model, friend, teammate and helpful individual in the community,” said Allen.  “I wanted to be a figure that was easy to talk to and did not shy away from helping others or just signing autographs.  To me, I really focused on being a positive person in everyway possible.”  

Born on Feb. 5, 1978 in Euless, Texas, Allen grew up in Fort Worth before moving to Liberty, Mo., and becoming a star at Liberty High School, also the home of current Wildcat players Colton Freeze and Payton Kirk.  Allen’s performance on and off the field at Liberty High quickly drew the eye of Kansas State and many other schools.  While Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas, to name but a few, fiercely recruited the Allen, it was Kansas State that really excited the young talent. 

“I simply felt comfortable - the coaches said all the right things,” said Allen.  “Each coach told me I had the opportunity to play immediately. The program was on the rise and I wanted to rise as well; both as a player and a person in front of my family and close to home.”

Allen could not have been more correct when he knew the program was on the rise.  During his four years as a player, Kansas State flexed its muscles by going 44-7 with two Big 12 North titles, a historic 40-30 win over Nebraska in 1998 that ended a losing streak dating back to 1968, and a No. 1 national ranking for the first time in school history.  To Allen, the 1998 season summarized his career at Kansas State.

“The caliber of our team was by far one of the greatest to ever be displayed,” said Allen.  “Climbing to the top of the polls showed we had incredible talent with players like Newman, Gramatica, and Simoneau.  The win over Nebraska was the defining moment in Kansas State history as we put on a show in front of national television.  All in all, it was a setting stone for what our university was going to become.” 

As Allen reflects on the1998 season and looks forward to the 10-year reunion this fall, he realizes how much of an honor it is for he and his teammates to be inducted into the Ring of Honor. 

 

“It is great,” said Allen.  “It is unbelievable to know that we will be forever enshrined in K-State history.  Every time we walk into the stadium, we will be honored to know our names are hanging throughout the stadium forever.  It is truly special.” 

 

Allen also wanted to congratulate each inductee for their great performance and drive to excel on the field and in the classroom.  To him, that is what separates the good from the great. 

 

For up and coming stars that want to be like Kansas State’s finest, Allen had one piece of advice.  He says,  “Just be yourself and do not let anyone tell you that you are too small, slow or incapable of performing at the highest level.  Attend class and hit the weight room to develop your maximum potential.  You can accomplish anything you desire as the sky is the limit.”

 

Allen enters the Ring of Honor as a result of his dodging and escaping tacklers in a fashion that left fans wondering if it was actually Harry Houdini wearing number 32 for the Wildcats. 

From 1997-2000, he would shatter special teams records and receive national honors that still hold to this day.  In 1997, he was named a second team All-Big 12 punt returner with an average of 13.43 yards per return, the fifth best in school history, including a 70-yard touchdown scamper against Kansas

During the 1998 season he was named a consensus All-American by leading the nation in punt returns with a 22.1-yard average.  He became the only player in NCAA history to return punts for touchdowns in three consecutive weeks.  He concluded the 1998 campaign with four return touchdowns and an astounding school record of 730 yards in punt returns.  As a junior in 1999, Allen became an All-American for the second straight year as he returned a Big 12 record and possibly season-saving 94-yard punt for touchdown at Iowa State, cutting into a daunting 21-point deficit. 

The very next week, he sprinted down the Longhorn’s sideline in Austin, Texas for 74 yards to give the Wildcats the lead en route to a 35-17 victory on the road.   He concluded his career at K-State in 2000 with an injury-plagued season, yet still returned 12 punts for an average of 10.25 yards and finished in the record books as the school’s all-time career leader in punt return average at 16.0 yards per return, total punt return yards (1,646) and punt return touchdowns (seven).

 

Why was Allen so successful? 

 

John Fabris, special teams coach during Allen’s college career says, “David had a vision for the field and had the wiggle in his running that made people miss so often.  He worked so hard and would stay after practice to get better.  It was second nature to him.  He had that competitive confidence you want in a guy returning kicks as he would tell the blockers to just block and he would run it back.”

 

Allen gave much of his credit to his other 10 teammates on the field. 

 

“The key to a successful punt return is trust, trust, trust,” said Allen.  “The guys up front wanted to block.  Everyone on the whole team wanted to be out there blocking because they knew something special was going to happen.  The teamwork was phenomenal.  It was our bread and butter.”

 

After his successful career at K-State, Allen had the opportunity to display his immense talent for several teams in the NFL.  Currently, he resides in Arizona with his wife where he is enjoying working in medical-sales to help peoples’ needs, playing golf, going to the lake with family, and simply loving life.

 

As for when he thinks the number 32 will be retired at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Allen takes a long laugh and says, “Maybe when I am 70 or 75 years old.”

Check back here at k-statesports.com as the remaining three Ring of Honor inductees will be featured leading up to the 2008 season opener.