Purdue Player Spotlight: Ricardo Allen
At 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds, Purdue’s sophomore cornerback Ricardo Allen is far from a physically imposing figure out on the gridiron. But despite his small stature, Allen has played a massive role for the Boilermaker defense since he arrived in West Lafayette, Indiana last August.
As a true freshman, Allen’s impact on the Purdue secondary was extremely visible. Allen started all 12 games in his first collegiate season, picking up a sack in his second career game in a home victory against Western Illinois and his first career interception the following weekend in a victory against Ball State.
Despite Purdue ending the season with a six game losing streak, Allen gave the Boilermakers hope for the upcoming season with two incredible back-to-back performances to end the year.
In successive weekends against Michigan and at co-Big Ten champions Michigan State, Allen put on a show. At the Big House in Ann Arbor, Allen recorded eight tackles and returned a Denard Robinson interception 94 yards for a touchdown. The following weekend at then-12th ranked Michigan State, Allen recorded nine tackles, successfully defended two passes and intercepted a third pass for a 35-yard touchdown.
Needless to say, the true freshman from Daytona Beach, Florida had begun to turn some heads in the Big Ten community. By the end of his freshman campaign, Allen had recorded 73 tackles, a sack, and intercepted three passes.
Allen made an impression on analysts, as he was named a second team Freshman All-America by Rivals.com and Scout.com. Allen was also named a second team all-Big Ten by the media and honorable mention all-conference by the coaches.
Despite a stellar freshman season, Allen was not as coveted as one might expect out of high school.
Allen entered Purdue as a three-star prospect and ranked the 48th best cornerback nationally by ESPN. Growing up in Florida, a state filled with football talent, it was difficult for Allen to stand out. In high school, Allen was ranked the 29th best cornerback in the state by Rivals.com and the 88th best player in state by the Orlando Sentinel.
Regardless of the initial skepticism of Allen’s abilities, as a sophomore Allen has shown not only has he improved his skill set, but could very well be one of the best defensive backs in the Big Ten.
In four out of the first five games of his sophomore season, Allen has done something exceptional to aid his team. In the opener against Middle Tennessee State, Allen blocked what would have been a game-tying field goal as time expired. Two weekends later against Southeastern Missouri State, Allen intercepted his fourth career pass and the following weekend against Notre Dame he recorded a career-high 10 tackles.
Despite all those impressive outings, Allen’s best weekend of the year arguably came last weekend in a victory against Minnesota. In the game, Allen intercepted a MarQueis Gray pass and returned it 37-yards for his third career interception return for a touchdown. That tied the school record set by linebacker Mike Rose and former All-American and hall-of-famer Rod Woodson.
Penn State quarterbacks Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin will need to do their homework as they enter this weekend’s battle against Purdue. The Nittany Lion duo enters this weekend’s game having thrown five interceptions to only six touchdowns. If Penn State cannot protect the ball through the air, Ricardo Allen could have quite a memorable day in his first career game at Beaver Stadium.
Justin Rocke is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.