Austin Allen had never met the finalists for the Heisman Trophy. Then the quarterback from Vanderbilt University ran into Alabama’s Jalen Hurts during the week and gained a small but important perspective.
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“We’re both men and we’re going to have to handle it head on,” Allen said after hurts beat Allen’s Commodores 55-21 at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Friday. “He’s got a lot of confidence on the field and on the field we’re going to have to have the same. We’re only as good as our next man.”
Hurts and Allen sat with Alabama’s Heisman-winning running back Tua Tagovailoa. They posed together and smiled for pictures in front of their Bentley coupe, maybe 1,000 miles from Jacksonville, Florida, where Tagovailoa was announced as the Heisman winner by ESPN.
“We’re like brothers,” Allen said. “He’s just like me. He’s nothing like I am.”
Hurts led Alabama to a game-winning touchdown in the final moments of the second quarter against Vanderbilt. Allen is back-to-back. His father played quarterback at Alabama and Allen graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University, where his father now serves as the defensive backs coach.
Allen helped Vanderbilt beat Oregon in his only college start, then beat Kansas State and Ole Miss in the Georgia Dome to reach the East-West Shrine Game. That provided the opportunity to meet the finalists for the Heisman and watch them workout for college scouts. Hurts’s was noteworthy because of his competition for the award.
And when Allen completed 13 of 18 passes for 166 yards against the Commodores, the NFL took notice. He’s projected as a late-round pick. All of which means a few million college graduates didn’t get to experience “Nestor! Champ! Villanueva!” for the first time this year.