Making sense of Willie Allen's surprising transfer to Michigan football: What we know

Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press
·2 min read

Willie Allen’s nomadic college career has featured many twists and turns.

The latest came Thursday, when the offensive tackle made a surprising revelation and announced his commitment to Michigan nine days before the Wolverines play their first game.

On Friday, a source inside the Michigan football program said Allen, who left Louisiana Tech and entered the NCAA transfer portal Monday, won’t suit up this fall after he already declared his intention to skip the season.

"With so much going on in this country, my health and COVID-19 impacting me personally, I have decided to opt out," Allen wrote Sept. 29 on Twitter.

Apr 22, 2017; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Louisiana State Tigers offensive lineman Willie Allen (74) warming up before the annual Louisiana State Tigers purple-gold spring game at Tiger Stadium. Purple team won 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Louisiana State Tigers offensive lineman Willie Allen (74) warming up before the annual Louisiana State Tigers purple-gold spring game at Tiger Stadium. Purple team won 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The plan is for Allen to sit out the 2020 campaign and eventually fortify an offensive line that is expected to lose star right tackle Jalen Mayfield next spring. Mayfield, a redshirt sophomore who is projected as a potential first-round pick by several NFL draft prognosticators, initially announced he would go pro in August before returning to Michigan last month when the Big Ten reinstated the season. He also signed with an agent, according to NFLPA records.

Allen, who said he would be a grad student at his next stop, is viewed as a one-year insurance policy in 2021 that affords the Wolverines added flexibility to develop some of the team’s other linemen who could be tasked to serve as bookend protectors — namely redshirt freshmen Karsen Barnhart, Trente Jones and Trevor Keegan and newcomer Zak Zinter.

At Michigan, Allen returns to a Power Five program for the first time since he played at LSU, where he enrolled as a four-star recruit in 2016 and redshirted before transferring to Tyler Junior College in Texas. After appearing in five games during the 2017 season, he made the move to Louisiana Tech the following year. In 2019, he became the Bulldogs’ starting left tackle, where he conceded two sacks and allowed 15 pressures in 13 games, according to Pro Football Focus.

One NFL scouting service used by many clubs in the league projected him to be an undrafted free agent before this season began.

“Good, solid get,” said the source inside Michigan’s program.

Contact Rainer Sabin at rsabin@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @RainerSabin. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Big Ten newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Making sense of Michigan football landing grad transfer Willie Allen