A week into spring practice, Pat Allen was given the nod to start running with the first-team offensive line.
After two years of serving in a backup role, the Reisterstown, Maryland, native was finally getting his chance. It was an opportunity Allen didn’t want to see slip him by.
“When I got up there, my only thought was to not mess up,” Allen said. “My only thought was know your assignment, play to best of your ability and just go.”
Allen never looked back after jumping up to his position of first-team left guard. He finished the spring as a starter and will more than likely enter preseason practice as the one to beat at his spot.
There will be plenty of competition for Allen, however, once the incoming freshmen enroll in June. Of that group, offensive guards Netori Johnson and Justin Schaffer could pose a challenge.
Both of the Cedar Grove standouts check in at more than 340 pounds. Allen weighed 290 pounds during the spring and said he will be training to get above 300 by the end of the summer.
“That’s the goal, mainly to be at a good weight and go from there,” Allen said.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has been complimentary of Allen all offseason, dating back to before spring practice.
Allen was a part of an offensive line that showed great improvement throughout the spring. Through the first eight games of the 2016 season, Georgia’s line struggled to run the ball. That picked up during the final five games, with Allen confident that this particular trend can continue in 2017.
“We had a bunch of guys ready to work,” Allen said. “The more we worked, the stronger we got. Regardless of my size I’m going to keep working with my team.”
Through the offseason strength and conditioning program, Allen did his part to put himself in as good of shape as possible to be in a position to start. Smart took notice then and then saw how well he performed during spring practices.
“I think he understands what he’s doing better,” Smart said. “I think he’s more comfortable. He’s playing with a physical attitude and a physical demeanor.”
Once spring practice concluded, Allen was named one of the three recipients of the Hugh Hendrix Award, which goes to a player who “most strains his potential.”
Allen shared the honor with receiver Terry Godwin and defensive back Tyrique McGhee.
“Pat’s come a long way since he got here,” running back Nick Chubb said. “He’s done well, he’s up there with the ones. He’s playing hard.”
Allen admitted he wasn’t thrilled about taking a redshirt when he was a freshman in 2015. And then last season, he was a backup who only saw game action against Louisiana-Lafayette and in the Liberty Bowl against TCU.
But while he waited, Allen studied those ahead of him on the depth chart so that he could absorb information and be ready when his name is called.
He got that call during spring practice. He hopes to keep his starting spot through the end of August.
“It’s been amazing. When I came in my freshman year, I wasn’t too hyped about being redshirted,” Allen said. “But I saw what it takes to start. After watching Brandon Kublanow, John Theus, Kolton (Houston) and all of them, it was just a big thing to see what it takes to be a starter. It’s a great opportunity.”