Hudson Houck on Larry Allen

IRVING, Texas -- Hudson Houck knows what a Hall of Fame offensive lineman looks like.

He coached Bruce Matthews and Anthony Munoz at Southern Cal. He had Jackie Slater with the Los Angeles Rams.

Larry Allen, who will be inducted into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor on Sunday, will one day be in that category.

“Larry is as explosive a player as I’ve ever coached,” Houck said. “Everyone knows he can run and he’s extremely strong and that he’s got great reaction, great recovery. His lower body strength, his core strength, that’s the thing when he is out of position that helps get him in the right position. But what people don’t know is how smart he is. He’s kind of a quiet man, but he’s a very smart man … He didn’t make mental mistakes and was a very good learner.”

Notice that Houck only used the past tense until the last part of the quote. Is he hoping Allen can return?

“I’m not so sure he couldn’t play, to be real honest with you,” Houck said. “He looks like he’s in pretty good shape when he’s been working with our guy.”

Houck knew right away Allen would be a great player. He saw it in practice when Allen went against Charles Haley, who is also being inducted into the Ring of Honor.

“Charles took him to the steam room a couple of times in practice, but he had such a great, prideful attitude that he didn’t want to get beat so he went to looking at it, studying it, seeing the tape, taking coaching well and sure enough Charles Haley came out and said, ‘Boy, you got something there. This is a great player.’”

Two memories stick with Houck: the first when he tracked down a New Orleans linebacker on an interception return and when he went against Green Bay’s Reggie White.

“Reggie gave him that hump move and moved him three or four yards over with that move,” Houck said. “Never happened again. Never happened again. He was so determined to not be embarrassed by that. If a guy beats you and he’s so embarrassed to now work on it and not let it happen a guy, that’s the sign of a great player.”