New Quarterback Has Big Shoes To Fill
September 1, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE Austin Allen has some big shoes to fill — some big brother shoes.
Allen, Fayetteville’s new starting quarterback, knows what it’s like to experience plenty of hype, pressure and expectations before ever starting a high school game.
Four years ago, Brandon Allen was a sophomore at Fayetteville and went through the same thing. Now it’s Austin Allen’s turn.
Only this time, the younger brother has to follow in older brother’s footsteps.
“I get asked the same question all the time,” Austin Allen said. “I’m used to it by now. Sure, there’s extra pressure to follow up Brandon, but I think I’ll be able to handle it.”
The similarities between the two Allen brothers are striking. Both have great size for a quarterback. Both can run well. Both have a great sense for the game. And both have those big-league, powerful pro-style arms when throwing the football.
The one difference is that only one of them must follow the other after he had become a record-breaking quarterback in the state’s highest classification.
Pressure? Just a little bit.
“I’m sure he does feel pressure, and I feel bad for him in some ways,” Fayetteville offensive coordinator Zak Clark said. “It’s unfortunate for him and it isn’t. I mean Austin is very talented, and people are going to draw their own conclusions. But Brandon started for three years, and people are going to expect Austin to be just like Brandon right away.”
Clark knows plenty about sibling rivalry and big brother-little brother pressure. At Fayetteville around 13 years ago, it was Clark who handed the quarterback duties over to his younger brother, Cody Clark.
“People want him to be as good as Brandon, and it will take time,” Clark said. “Austin just needs the experience.”
A small dose of that experience was put on display when Allen and Fayetteville faced Pulaski Academy in a preseason scrimmage Aug. 22 at Harmon Field. Playing in his first real contest as the Bulldogs starting quarterback, Austin Allen was 27 of
48 passing for 481 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions on tipped balls.
Oh, it was in three quarters.
“Austin’s a real level-headed kid, and I think people saw that night against Pulaski Academy there’s not too much that gets him rattled,” Fayetteville coach Daryl Patton said. “There’s not much difference at this age between Brandon and Austin. Austin has showed us he can run. Brandon was probably a little better at throwing it on the run. But physically he’s right there.”
Allen has already received NCAA Division I scholarship offers from Tulsa and Ole Miss with more sure to come. Whether he follows his brother to Arkansas is a decision that remains well down the road.
Instead, the focus this season is to pick up right where big brother left off.
“There’s pressure, sure. I’m taking over for the best quarterback ever in the history of the state,” Austin Allen said. “But I think I’ll be fine with it. I believe in myself, and my teammates and my coaches believe in me.”