Q&A: QB Drew Allen on leaving Oklahoma

For the last four years, quarterback Drew Allen has worn crimson. Soon, he’ll don the orange of Syracuse.

Allen, who will earn his degree from Oklahoma this month, will be eligible for the Orange immediately, and will compete to replace Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who was taken in the fourth round of the NFL draft.

Before he heads off to his new school, Allen checked in with SoonerNation to talk about Syracuse, the decision to transfer and what he thinks of OU’s three-way quarterback competition:

SoonerNation: When are you getting up to Syracuse?

Drew Allen: It depends. I’m just now applying. They just sent me applications to get into graduate school. It depends on which graduate school I use or get into, and when that school offers classes. With NCAA rules, you have to be enrolled and taking courses in order to be participating with the team. I imagine though it would be in June.

SN: What are you going to get your Master's in?

Allen: No, I don’t know yet. I met with admissions when I went up there for my visit, and found three, four of them that would be good. If I can get into one that’s good for me, that’s all I can really ask for.

SN: What other schools did you look at?

Allen: Throughout the process, I didn’t really focus on schools, I was looking more so at what schools were looking at me, that would be willing to give me an opportunity and privilege to be able to use my last year to come play for them. Once I figured out who those schools were, I was able to narrow it down.

SN: Who did you narrow it down to?

Allen: It really came down to Syracuse and NC State. I visited both schools. In the end I chose Syracuse. I really liked what (Ryan) Nassib did, the direction of the program. They’re moving from the Big East to the ACC, the strength of schedule is favorable for exposure. If we win those games, we put ourselves in a good position to be a nationally-ranked team. The coaches were great. The schemes and type of offense (Orange offensive coordinator George McDonald) is going to run there really fits me, and is pretty much a carryover from what we’ve done at OU. The same kind of stuff.

SN: I’m assuming you were closely examining the quarterback situations at each of the schools you looked at, right?

Allen: Of course. That was one of the factors I looked into. The first thing I did with my parents is researched which schools lost their starting quarterbacks. Then we moved on to, what kind of experience the guys underneath them have. Was the starting quarterback hurt, did another guy step in, did he get experience? I wanted to go where there was a great opportunity to succeed and play and compete for the job. I’m not expected to be promised anything. But all you can ask for is a chance to compete at a high level at a big-time school in a big-time conference. I competed like crazy at OU for four years. I have no regrets. I gave it my all. But I felt like it was my time to move on and go up to Syracuse and compete for the starting job there.

SN: That’s nothing new for you. Seems like you were in an ongoing competition with Blake Bell for a couple years, right?

Allen: Exactly. Even after my junior year in high school when I was a starter, I was still in a competition. Coming in here, I thought it would be a great opportunity with Sam Bradford here, to learn from him. There was another guy on the roster in Landry (Jones). I figured if Sam stayed and played the whole year (in 2009), Landry and I would compete for the job the next season. But Sam got hurt and Landry established himself. But I still and always have prepared like I’m going to be the No. 1 guy. I’m going to continue to do that in football and in life.

SN: How did you get hooked up with (quarterback coach) George Whitfield? Through Landry?

Allen: I actually hooked up with him through (Johnny) Manziel, and a couple other sources. My parents looked into it, and figured he’d be a good guy to work with. Turned out, George has been a great guy to work with. I’ve really developed my skills the last couple months. I’ve become a much better quarterback since I’ve been working with him.

SN: When did you first think you might transfer? When Blake was named the No. 2 quarterback last August?

Allen: In the back of my mind, it happened when Blake got that job. People were telling me to go ahead and transfer then and there, before the season. Really, the competitor in me did not like that option. If I did that I wouldn’t be eligible until the next year. Just seemed like the wrong thing to do. At least staying here, I had the opportunity to play, whether that was Landry getting injured and Blake going in and something happening -- you never know. Obviously that never happened. But the opportunity was there and that’s what kept me going. Before that I never thought of transferring. Ever. I have no regrets, no grudges. Coach (Bob) Stoops and Coach (Josh) Heupel helped me to get to the best I could be, and that prepared me for this final year. I felt like I gave it my all at Oklahoma. Had a great four years.

SN: Was it weird not going through spring ball?

Allen: It was. Those 15 practices, a part of me wanted to be out there. I expected to feel that way. But I made a decision, I stand by it. I still support those guys. But it was my time to move on. And since I made that decision, every rep and every throw has been building to becoming a better player for Syracuse.

SN: What do you make of the OU quarterback competition?

Allen: I was at the spring game, and I feel like all three quarterbacks showed great ability to produce, to have offensive production. All three have ability, the ability to get first downs, make plays with their feet. It’s probably going to come down to who manages the team better, who’s best at that. I imagine it will come down to fall camp. All three guys are capable. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

SN: What are your thoughts on this team next season?

Allen: I feel like they’re going to have success. Some of the new guys on the coaching staff seem like they really know what they’re doing, and I think they have a good plan for what they want to do in the fall. At the skill position, OU is unbelievable. Especially at running back. The depth there is incredible. The depth on the offensive line might not be there, but there is definitely some experience, anchored by Gabe Ikard who is the mastermind of the offensive line. Defensively, it comes down to Aaron Colvin leading the team on that side of the ball. I’m looking forward to seeing how they do, and I’ll sure as heck be rooting for them.