Former Saint Stanislaus quarterback Tyler Allen has climbed the proverbial ladder in college coaching and is now coaching at the Division I level.
Allen, a 2014 SSC graduate, is in his fifth season of coaching in the collegiate ranks and finds himself as the Quarterbacks coach at Jacksonville State University.
Allen stated, “It has certainly been a journey but I don’t feel like I am at work at all. I have loved this sport for as long as I can remember and it has taken me to some very great places.”
Allen is in his fifth year of coaching the position of quarterback. He was a three-year quarterback at SSC where he was named to the All-State team twice and was the Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year in Mississippi in 2013.
In his career at SSC, Allen threw for 6,913 yards and 74 touchdowns on 455-for-760 passing and rushed for 1,379 yards and 14 touchdowns on 208 carries.
During his junior season in 2012, the Rocks went 0-9 including a national record-setting 82-80 loss to Poplarville where the Rocks totaled a then-national record of 937 yards of total offense in a single game. Despite a winless record, Allen was named to the All-State team.
In 2013, he led the Rocks to a complete turnaround and a 12-1 record and trip to the Class 4A state quarter-finals where they fell to the eventual state champion Forrest County AHS Aggies 49-42 in the last 120 seconds of the game. It was the first time in Mississippi that a team went winless the prior year and went undefeated and captured a division title the next and advanced three rounds in postseason play.
Allen stated, “I miss South Mississippi, the food, Saint Stanislaus and the people. Whenever I come home, it feels like I never left. I love being on the water and visiting with the guys I grew up with playing football. I always have a place that I can call home.”
After SSC, Allen played two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before heading to LSU to finish his degree. While in Baton Rouge, Allen got on with the Tigers as a student assistant coach and worked two seasons there while he finished his degree. He made a jump to Troy University in Alabama under Neal Brown as a graduate assistant where he stayed a year before Brown brought him to West Virginia with his staff. After a season in West Virginia as a graduate assistant, Allen went with John Grass to Jacksonville State University on March 1 where he was promoted to quarterbacks coach and given a full-time assistant position with all the bells and whistles. To refresh, Allen made this leap in coaching in just five years.
Allen stated that football is football, no matter how one cuts it but he said the biggest challenge today with the sport is how to recruit in the age of COVID-19. Allen added, “It is very difficult to recruit right now due to the pandemic. There is no precedent with regard to how to work in this situation. Simply put, this is not a normal year. But, you have to realize that this is a business. When we recruit, we establish relationships with a myriad of people close to the recruit, in addition to the recruit himself. We have to show and model that we will take care of their son, educate them, and prepare them for life after football. Evaluating talent is the easy part. After that, we have to evaluate if this person is a fit for Jacksonville State, the town, our offense, can they learn from criticism, how do they respond to critiques, and so on. There is a ton of evaluation beyond film. It is a process like everything else in life. At the end of the day, the people we sign are reflections of us.”
Jacksonville State is a member of the Ohio Valley Conference and in the FCS division of football. The Gamecocks won the conference from 2014-18 and finished 6-6 in 2019.
The OVC and FCS will play their conference schedules beginning in February. Jacksonville State played their non-conference schedule in the fall and currently sit at 3-1. They will also play on Sundays in the spring semester which adds a new wrinkle thanks to COVID-19.
Allen ended, “It has been a surreal experience making the jump to being a full-time assistant. I have tremendous input on the offensive game plan. It is a learning and teaching experience every day. Now, with the pandemic coming in it has changed when we play, how we play to a certain extent and how we operate. Testing has become a major part of our operation. We have to test three times a week and that includes everyone in the program that travels. That is quite an expense especially for many programs. The only way I can look at it is every day is a new day. You never know what will happen so you just attack what you can and move forward.”
Allen and the Gamecocks open their conference schedule on the road at Tennessee State on Sunday, February 21 at 2 p.m.