John Baker

Oregon Speedster Devon Allen Hidden Secret For Ducks

Created on Jul. 24, 2014 5:00 AM EST

There's little secret that physical talent is only a piece of the athletic success puzzle. Coaches often point to the mental game as being at least the equal, if not more important, in an athlete taking that next step in his or her development.

For an Oregon football team that's wondering who is going to help replace production lost to graduation and a key spring practice injury, the X-factor may be Devon Allen. And it could all be placed at the mantel of confidence gleaned from another sport.

Allen was one of many receivers looking to make an impression during spring drills, but it's what he did after spring practice ended that may be the impetus for him to be "that guy" come the start of fall camp.

All the sophomore-to-be did was stun the track and field world by claiming the 110-meter high hurdle national championship in Sacramento this June.

As a freshman on the Oregon track team, Allen had progressed steadily on the track late in the spring, winning the NCAA title at 110 meters. Coaches in  both sports knew he had tremendous speed and startling athletic ability, but nothing prepared seasoned track watchers for what Allen was about to unleash to claim the national title several weeks later in Sacramento.

And it just might be that road to being the best in America, and one of the fastest in the world, which will lead Allen to a prominent role for the Ducks in the fall.

Simply put, you can't put a price on confidence in sports. It's a feeling of accomplishment and can-do mentality that could take the track star to important places in his football career.

Oregon lost a ton of catches, yards and scores from 2013, but seemed to be solid heading into the spring with Keanon Lowe and Bralon Addison returning and looking for increased roles. Well, Addison tore an ACL early on, turning Oregon's spring into a guessing game about the receivers.

Allen was just one of many faces entering spring practice, but his name was consistently on the lips of coaches and teammates during the spring, which he wrapped up with a 94-yard, two-score performance in the spring game.

While that boost of confidence had to help, you have to think that winning an NCAA title and then following that up with a startling performance on the nation's biggest stage had created a much more mature and successful mentality in Allen.

For Oregon, the chance to see Allen take that kind of confidence from success from one sport into another could be the key to quarterback Marcus Mariota having the kind of offensive year so many expect.

Devon Allen was just one of a handful of receivers looking to catch the eye of coaches heading into the spring. Now that summer is here, a look back at all Allen accomplished in May and June could be the springboard to a sizzling 2014 football season. Oregon football fans and coaches certainly hope that's the case.

Confidence is a wonderful thing and Allen should be brimming with it heading into fall camp. To be the X-factor Oregon needs, he has to carry it over onto the field. That's the real variable, after all.

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