Former MRH Standout Athlete Allen Now at Illinois State
Bryant Allen was a brilliant athlete at MRH, with 12 varsity letters across three sports. Allen recently left the University of Minnesota for Illinois State.
Bryant Allen, a multi-sport athlete and Maplewood Richmond Heights graduate with 12 varsity letters, has packed up and moved south to Normal, Illinois.
After spending three semesters at the University of Minnesota, Allen transferred to Illinois State University in early January.
Allen played one season of basketball and two seasons of football in the Big Ten Conference for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
“Coming from high school to college, it’s always going to be a big difference,” Allen said. “I had no problem getting to know the football players and the basketball guys. I had a good first year at Minnesota.”
Allen said he originally went to Minnesota, and not Illinois State, because he wanted to see where he stood on the Division I level in both basketball and football. However, Allen said Illinois State basketball coach Tim Jankovich had won his parents over while Allen was at MRH weighing his future options.
Also a track star at MRH, Allen won a state championship in the 300-meter hurdles in 2006. Allen holds the MRH record for career touchdowns with 62, and also led the Blue Devils to a 2008 state basketball championship.
In his freshman football season at Minnesota in 2009-10, Allen played 12 games. He started one game as a receiver and punt returner. He finished that season with five catches for 45 yards, and returned six punts with an average return of 12.2 yards. As a sophomore, Allen played nine games, starting three. He had 16 receptions and averaged 12.6 yards per catch, with a long of 60. He scored one touchdown.
“Every time you play a game you have to bring your best game,” Allen said about playing Big Ten football. “Because you never know, you might get that loss. It’s always competitive in the Big Ten, I can say that.”
Allen saw limited action in his freshman basketball season. He played in games against Ohio State, Indiana, Penn State and Purdue, where he scored three points in four minutes in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. He didn’t play basketball in his sophomore season.
Allen has now started practicing with the Division 1 Illinois State Redbirds basketball team. Head coach Jankovich said they recruited Allen “real hard” when he was at MRH.
“We’re thrilled to have him here,” he said. “We obviously believe in his talent and work ethic … and we still have those beliefs.”
Allen plans on playing both basketball and football, and will be eligible to play both sports next season. Jankovich said it’s a challenge to be a two-sport athlete at this level.
“Basketball-football is very rare,” Jankovich said. “You see it with some other sports, but basketball and football overlap so long, that’s what makes it difficult. But, he’s very determined to do it, and he’s very talented, and he has a great work ethic. So who are we to say he couldn’t do it?”
Allen says he has it under control. “There will come a point in time where I’ll have to choose one sport, but right now, I’m going to continue to do both,” he said.
“I’ll practice with the basketball team until we start spring ball for football. Once football season starts I’ll be full-go for football. Then when basketball season comes around I’ll be full-go with basketball.”
Allen’s basketball coach at MRH, Corey Frazier, said he stays in touch with Allen. He mainly talks with Allen about being patient and prepared for whatever comes his way, he said. Frazier said he wants to make sure that Allen is in good spirits and is happy with his decision.
“He is really happy with going to Illinois State right now,” Frazier said. “It’s a smaller school and in a smaller city. This will keep him focused and determined to go after what he wants in life.
“I think we will hear some big things from him at Illinois State,” Frazier said. “I always say go where you’re wanted. Illinois State was the school that wanted him the most, and they needed him. He wasn't just another number to them. They had him in the scheme of all their plans. I think it’s a great fit for him.”