Oregon wide receiver Devon Allen, lost for the season with a knee injury, today announced that he will forgo his college eligibility in football and track and field to become a professional hurdler and focus on preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
"My plans are to forgo the next track season and turn professional here in the next couple of weeks to a month and then compete professionally this spring once I'm healthy," Allen said during a press conference at the Hatfield-Dowlin complex. "It's a big decision. I talked to my teammates, my coaches, my family. And, I just thought that this was the best for me as an athlete to kind of move on in my career as a professional athlete. And I felt that it will give me the best opportunity to accomplish what I want to accomplish in the future, and that's winning a gold medal, and holding the world record in the 110-hurdles."
Allen, who placed fifth in the 110-hurdles at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, returned to the Oregon football team this fall before three games into the season at Nebraska he tore the ACL in his left knee, ending his season.
Allen injured his knee while covering a punt in the fourth quarter. He suffered the same injury in his right knee during the 2015 Rose bowl.
Allen ends his football career at Oregon with 919 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. His best season came in 2014 when as a redshirt freshman he caught 41 passes for 684 yards and seven touchdowns.
Allen didn't rule out returning to football down the line and pursuing a career in the NFL.
Allen said he considered turning pro in track and field following the Olympics but his love of football led him to play one more year at Oregon. Once he decided to play football he knew that this would be his final season at UO, and that he would either enter the 2017 NFL Draft or focus on track.
The choice now is track with an eye toward maybe chasing his NFL dreams in the future.
"I think my ideal scenario is to run track for the next couple of years, win the 2020 gold medal, have the world record and then I can put that aside and try to play football," Allen said.
Allen struggled last season with the Ducks football team while still recovering from his first knee injury. Early this season he appeared to finally return to form when he caught four passes for 141 yards and scored on a 77-yard touchdown during a 46-28 win over Virginia on Sept. 10. That was his best game since going for 142 yards and an 80-yard score at Washington State on Sept. 20, 2014.
The following week at Nebraska his 2016 football season ended.
Allen said he plans to remain in school through spring term and train in Eugene.
Allen, about six weeks out from surgery, said that he should be able to start jogging next month and sprinting again by early January.
United States championships are in June, about nine months out from when he got injured. It's about the same amount of time he took to rehab his Rose Bowl injury before the start of the 2014 season.
Allen said he plans to hire an agent in the next couple of weeks and then pursue some endorsements as a professional track athlete.