What are the San Diego Chargers getting in former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o? Irish Eyes…
DRAFT IN-DEPTH: The Long Wait is Over
For all of Keenan Allen's accomplishments, his mountains of numbers, his 205 career catches, his 2,570 receiving yards, his 19 career touchdowns, his 3,458 all-purpose yards, there was one number that stuck out on Friday: 75. That's how many college football players were taken ahead of Allen in the 2013 NFL Draft. "Not sure what happened," Allen said on Friday night. "I definitely was worrying about when my name was going to be called." Just as he has spent the past two years, Allen spent the past two days alongside his brother Zach Maynard at the family home in North Carolina, watching and waiting, sometimes patiently, sometimes now so much. "I just remained calm and was keeping my head up, waiting for my name to be called," he said. Allen isn't used to waiting. Just over 12 minutes into his first college football game, he touched the ball for the first time, rushing for 17 yards and a first down against UC Davis. 16 minutes later, he scored his first collegiate touchdown, rushing 18 yards on an end-around and high-fiving fans in the front row of the north end zone at California Memorial Stadium. Allen waited for more than a day and a half for his name to be called in the draft, as he saw what was once a sure-fire first-round pick evaporate. Was it the PCL strain that kept him out of the final three games of the season? Was it the 4.71-second 40-yard dash he ran in front of scouts at his own personal Pro Day in Greensboro, N.C. just a few weeks before? Was it a nagging ankle injury? "It could have been that, but I'm not sure," Allen said. "I'm not sure what happened. I was in the dark like you guys." One burning question that many – perhaps those in the war rooms of the 31 other teams that passed on Allen – may have had was, what did the alleged red-flagged drug test portend? Could it have been that something as simple as a little watered-down urine led to such a precipitous fall? "I don't think it played any part in it," Allen said, a tinge of fire in his voice. "I think it was all a mistake, in the first place. The red flag was definitely not a failed drug test. I think it was that I had a lot of water in my hydration, so they red-flagged it. Nobody ever came to me or my agent about it, so we weren't too worried about it." Finally, just before 6:18 p.m. Pacific, Allen got a call from the San Diego Chargers. "Definitely a big relief," Allen said. The Bolts perhaps got two of the biggest steals in the draft in Allen and embattled Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, but, Allen said, the conversation he had with Chargers brass was simple and matter-of-fact. The only whooping and hollering was that which echoed through the halls of Allen's home. "It was just a really calm conversation," Allen said. "They told me they were going to take me with the next pick, and excitement was everything that I was feeling. They were pretty excited, as well." Although he's spent nearly the last three years in the state of California, Allen didn't know much about his new team. He hadn't even had an in-person workout with San Diego. He certainly knew the quarterback – Philip Rivers -- who played his college ball at North Carolina State, just over 80 miles from Allen's childhood home of Greensboro. "Philip Rivers -- I know he's a great quarterback, a great leader, and I'm ready to get up under his wing on offense and make that connection so we have a one-two punch and get it going," Allen said. "I wouldn't say I know a lot about them. I had Wes Chandler back there as my receivers coach this past year, and I know he played there." He did, though, have some thoughts about his new teammate, Te'o. "Manti's a great guy," Allen said. "I actually met him in person back at the medical check in Indianapolis, so I already have a connection with Manti. He's a great guy, a great player, so that connection is already there." Allen's ankle and knee are now completely healthy, he said, but he's not quite at 100 percent. "They're feeling fine," he said. "My ankle is definitely a hundred percent. My knee is definitely healed back to 100 percent, and as far as strength and power, I'd say it's about 85-90 percent." Now that the draft drama is over, Allen is ready to get back to work. "I'm definitely excited, being able to stay out in California, and being in San Diego is definitely something I'm excited for," Allen said. "I'm just happy to have a home, and I'm ready to get out there." That will happen sooner, rather than later. Allen will report to the Chargers on Saturday morning for an introductory presser and the requisite meet-and-greet. Then, it's back to football. "The third-round pick is definitely motivation for me. I'm definitely trying to get out there and show everybody what I can do," said Allen, who looks to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his fall from potential first-overall pick in 2005 to 24th overall for inspiration. "I'd say that it really comes down to producing on the field and showing everybody what you can do on the field." While Allen only played in one bowl game during his time in Berkeley – a 21-10 Holiday Bowl loss to Texas in 2011 – he has set lofty goals for himself during his rookie season. "I see myself doing well, definitely being a starter, trying to be an impact player, and I want to make it a goal to be a Pro Bowler," Allen said. "It's something that I look forward to. I was definitely hoping for San Diego, just because of the atmosphere, and it's definitely great weather. It's definitely a great program, with a great quarterback."
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