Arizona football notes: Allen fights for quarterback spot

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Tyler Besh and Tyler Besh | The Daily Wildcat Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat #9 Quarterback Javelle Allen practices for the upcoming Fall 2013 season on Monday afternoon. UA Football began their spring practices this past Saturday.

As quarterback Javelle Allen headed off the field at Frank Sancet Stadium after practice on Monday, quarterbacks coach Rod Smith squirted his water bottle at Allen from a few feet away.

“I suck, man,” he yelled to Smith. “I’m sorry!”

Allen had a bad practice and Smith let him know it. Allen is competing for the starting role vacated by All-Pac-12 quarterback Matt Scott, but he knows it won’t come easy. Especially with B.J. Denker and transfer Jesse Scroggins in contention as well, not to mention incoming freshman Anu Solomon.

“He’s still a work in progress,” Smith said. “He’s still a freshman. He’s got a lot of work to do … I’m not writing him off by any means but not saying that he’s the guy either and I think he’ll tell you that.”

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Allen, a redshirt freshman, doesn’t take the criticism personally. After all, if not for Smith, he might not even be at the UA.

As a three-star recruit from Prosper, Texas, Allen didn’t get any big-time scholarship offers.

He passed for 2,321 yards and 30 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,497 yards and 22 scores in his senior year at Prosper High School, but for most of the season he only received interest from teams like New Mexico State and Arkansas State.

Then, in an early October game against Lovejoy High School in 2011, Allen tallied 565 total yards with seven touchdowns, and teams started to take notice.

“The next week I came in, it was a lot different for me,” Allen said. “I was getting awards, setting records. So that got their attention.”

Once Indiana came calling, his ears perked up. He wanted to go there.

And he would have, had the Hoosiers not decided to pursue junior college quarterback Cameron Coffman instead.

“I was supposed to go to Indiana,” Allen said, “but Indiana had dropped my scholarship. They didn’t want me to go there anymore.”

Coincidentally, Smith was the one who recruited Allen to play at Indiana. He was an assistant with the Hoosiers in 2011 and he liked what he saw in Allen — he loved his skillset.

So when Smith was hired by Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez last year, he made it a point to bring Allen along with him.

“He’s got a dual threat aspect to him,” Smith said. “He can run, he can throw and you know he put up tremendous numbers in high school down in Prosper, Texas. There’s a strong upside for Javelle, he’s just gotta keep bringing it along.”

It was weird for Allen last year, getting zero snaps in a redshirted first year in Tucson after being a starter for most of his life. But Indiana’s recruitment, scholarship offer and subsequent rejection has provided Allen a chip on his shoulder. He wants to be the starter and he wants Indiana to know they made a mistake.

On the surface, Denker, Scroggins and Solomon look to be ahead of him in the quarterback pecking order, but Allen said he still thinks he “has a fair shot.”

“He’s working hard,” said freshman receiver Trey Griffey, who also redshirted in 2012. “It’s still really early but he’s giving it his all everyday, and I know he wants it as bad as anyone else and I think he’s proving himself well.”


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