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The Wildcats are loaded, and only one thing stands in their way. Alas, it's Nebraska
Forgive Kansas State senior David Allen if he lacks the proper schooling when it
comes to Nebraska football lore. Despite his status as the NCAA's reigning punt
return king, Allen admits that before last year he wasn't exactly well-versed on
the subject of Johnny Rodgers, the Cornhuskers legend whose prodigious play and
dramatic flair three decades ago made him the Picasso of the punt return.
"I can honestly say I didn't even know who Johnny Rodgers was," Allen
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| The Book |
| An opposing team's coach sizes up
They'll get stronger as the year goes on. It takes all those new jucos a while
to get going.... Morgan is awesome. He just killed us.... I think Roberson, the
kid they just brought in at quarterback, is better than Beasley. He will be
better than Michael Bishop was too.... They go with four wideouts and force you
to come out of an eight-man front, and they're patient enough to
That situation was rectified last November in Lincoln when the former king
introduced himself to the current one before the annual border war. "He
said he was fine with me breaking his record," recalls Allen, whose seven
career punt returns for touchdowns tie him with Rodgers and Oklahoma's Jack
Mitchell for the NCAA record. "But he did let me know he hoped it wouldn't
happen in his
Rodgers needn't have worried. Nebraska kept Allen out of the end zone en
route to a 41-15 pasting of K-State. Says senior quarterback Jonathan
Beasley about this year's matchup, "I'm just glad we'll be walking out
seeing purple instead of
Whether Beasley will be under center again when Big Red invades Manhattan this
November is another story. Redshirt freshman quarterback Ell Roberson drew rave
reviews this spring and has narrowed the gap. Whichever player ends up with the
nod will have the security of throwing to the Big 12's best receiving
duo -- senior Quincy Morgan and junior Aaron Lockett. He'll also have Allen as
the No. 1 tailback. "Most people just see me as a return man," says
Allen, who needs 172 yards in punt returns to break the career record of 1,695
yards, set by Vanderbilt's Lee Nalley from 1947 to '49. "It's my year to
prove I can be a return guy and an every-down
The speedy and sensational Allen has left many a body tumbling in his wake.
The defense isn't as sure a thing. Despite retaining seven starters from the
nation's second-ranked unit, K-State must replace its top three defensive
players from last
K-State has an early-season schedule that's softer than George Foreman's
midsection, which means its BCS prospects likely hinge on an upset of neighbors
to the north. "With the people we have," says Allen, "we can beat
anybody in the country."
If he's right, Allen won't be the only one in Manhattan this season experiencing
many happy returns.
Issue date: August 14, 2000
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