BC’s Allen fulfilling dream of playing at Yankee Stadium
As a young baseball player, Zach Allen always dreamed of playing at Yankee Stadium.
His baseball playing days may have faded during high school, but Allen is still getting to fulfill his wish of playing on the field of his boyhood idols.
He is just doing it as a football player.
Allen and the Boston College Eagles will take on Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl Dec. 27 at 5:15 p.m. at Yankee Stadium.
Playing in the home of his favorite baseball team is the thrill of a lifetime for the kid from New Canaan who grew up attending games at both the old and new Yankee Stadiums.
“I grew up as a baseball player so it is a dream come true to be able to play on that field. As a Yankee fan, that is my favorite place and I am excited to play there,” Allen said. “Selfishly, it is also great because it is so close to home that my family and friends can drive to the game. It’s a great bowl to get to play in. I just want to play and I’m glad we get to play more football.”
Coincidently, Allen and BC already got to live out some diamond dreams when the Eagles beat UConn 39-16 at Fenway Park in November.
To reach the Pinstripe Bowl, Boston College won five of its last six games, finishing the regular season with a 7-5 record under head coach Steve Addazio. The Eagles will be making their second trip to the Pinstripe Bowl and 26th bowl appearance all-time.
Allen, the 6-foot-5-inch, 285-pound junior defensive end, has been turning heads with his play since he arrived on the Chestnut Hill campus, but this season he has elevated his game to a whole new level.
Allen ranks No. 1 nationally among all defensive linemen with 93 tackles, registering at least eight tackles in a game on seven occasions this season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Allen recorded more stops than any other edge defender in FBS this season with 37. A stop constitutes a “win” for the defense.
Addazio knows he has a special talent in Allen.
“Zach Allen is a 6-5, 285-pound athletic guy. I mean, he’s the real deal,” Addazio said in a press conference earlier this season. “You know, he’s just so versatile. You know, he’s a power guy. He’s big and strong and athletic and his versatility shows in his ability to make athletic, physical plays. He’s a big-time player.”
Allen has made such huge strides in his game, there is chatter of him leaving BC after this season and taking a shot at the NFL draft.
Some draft models currently have Allen projected as a sixth-round pick if he were to forgo his senior season.
Allen said he is focused solely on the Pinstripe Bowl, but will talk the deciscion over with his coaches and family after the season.
“I know people have been talking about that, but I am so focused on this season and the bowl game I haven’t given it much thought, yet.” Allen said. “I know it is a possibility, but I am focused on the team right now. After the season, I will sit down with my family and coaches and assess the situation and see what’s best for me.”
While NFL players have come from Boston College before, no one who has played for Lou Marinelli at New Canaan has ever made a NFL roster and played in a regular season game.
It seems odd for a team that has been the premier program in Connecticut high school football the last 20 years, but only two former Rams who played for Marinelli have come close to playing on Sundays.
Former Ram Jason Cooper made the practice squads for Miami and Dallas, and Matt Kelly got to camp with the Giants, but neither ever saw the field in the regular season.
Marinelli said he always thought Allen had the makeup to succeed at any level of the sport.
“I am not surprised at all by how well he is doing at BC,” Marinelli said. “When you factor in that he had a 95.6 high school average. He is a smart kid, he is a hard worker and he is very focused. I asked him his sophomore year up there ‘How are the girls, how are the parties up there?’ and he said ‘Coach, there are a lot of guys who party and stuff, but I got a small group of guys, we go watch film. We are always trying to get better.’ That’s the kind of kid he is and it is rare with kids his age.”
That arduous work in both football and the classroom is paying off.
Along with being named first team All-New England and All-ACC honorable mention, Allen, a finance major, was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District team after earning a 3.67 grade point average this fall.
Allen also won the 79th annual George “Bulger” Lowe Award as the top defensive player in New England playing in FBS or FCS.
After leading the nation in tackles by a defensive end, many observers felt Allen deserved first-team All-ACC honors. While he was briefly perturbed by the snub, as always, he turned the focus back to the team.
“I was disappointed for a minute, but then it was back to work. Being focused on another game made it easier,” Allen said. “Obviously, when you look at the numbers it’s close between first team and third team. So, it was disappointing but there are so many good ends in the ACC. I came here to win football games and that’s what I want us to keep doing.”
Allen will be fulfilling one dream when he walks out of the dugout at Yankee Stadium in the Pinstripe Bowl.
In the near future, he could be fulfilling another running out of the tunnel at Gillette or MetLife Stadium as a NFL player.