Friend, foe or teammate, Jordan Allen refers to most people by the same nickname — “Big Dog.”
A Big Dog himself, Allen, a former LSU defensive end, committed to Arizona on Tuesday afternoon. The 6-foot-6-inch, 254-pound lineman will be able to play this season. He has one season of eligibility remaining.
Allen, who decided to transfer from the Tigers after spring ball, will graduate from LSU this semester and then arrive at Arizona in May. He’ll participate in summer conditioning and be with the team for fall camp.
The West Monroe, La., native redshirted his first season at LSU in 2010 and played as a reserve in 2011. He played in three games and had one tackle.
As a sophomore in 2012, he tore his ACL and missed the majority of the season. He played in all 13 games last season for the Tigers. He had 16 tackles and two sacks.
“I was just ready for a fresh start; something different,” Allen told the Star on Tuesday. “I wanted to find a place where I could come in and help the team and ultimately help them win a championship. Arizona seems like the perfect spot to do that.”
Allen played defensive end exclusively for the Tigers, but could play some nose tackle for the Wildcats, who are thin on the interior. The UA returns just one starter on the defensive line — end Reggie Gilbert — and is searching for experienced talent up front, which Allen provides.
The former LSU lineman visited Arizona earlier this month and said he felt comfortable from the start. He chose Arizona over TCU and others. The lineman said one of the things that appealed to him about Arizona was the need for a veteran presence on the defensive line and the chance for playing time right away.
“There’s a lot to love about Arizona,” Allen said. “The place is awesome. Not just the city of Tucson, but the overall campus is amazing. I really liked how the university is very athlete-oriented. They really care about their players there and give them every resource they need.
“I’m hoping it will be a good fit.”
Allen said he’s also looking forward to playing for head coach Rich Rodriguez and defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich.
“Obviously everybody knows about coach Rodriguez and what he brings to the college game,” Allen said. “He gets real fired up and has some really good relationships with his players. You can tell he really cares about them. Coach Kirelawich also seems like a great coach, and I know he’s been doing it for a long time.”
Allen was a four-star prospect coming out of West Monroe High School. He was ranked as the 16th- best defensive end in the country by the Scout.com recruiting service in 2010. He chose LSU over offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, Tennessee and others. He was ranked as the top defensive line prospect in the state of Louisiana by Rivals.com.
“I had a good experience at LSU, it was just time to move on,” Allen said.
Allen was a teammate of current UA quarterback Jerrard Randall for two seasons. Randall began his career at LSU before transferring to Northeast Mississippi Community College last season.
“We didn’t hang out a lot outside of football, but I definitely know him and spent a lot of time with him on the field and in the weight room,” Allen said. “It’ll be good to have him there.”
Rodriguez has looked for bounce-back-type players since he arrived at Arizona to help stock a roster that lacked in size and talent when he got here.
Allen joins Randall, Cayleb Jones and Connor Brewer (Texas), DaVonte Neal (Notre Dame), Jesse Scroggins (USC) and Jeff Worthy (Boise State) as players looking for a fresh start in Tucson after beginning their college careers elsewhere.
Scroggins was the first to transfer, committing to Rodriguez and the Wildcats after the 2011 season. Jones, Brewer and Neal all joined the UA after Rodriguez’s first season in Tucson and sat out last season.
Randall and Worthy both spent 2013 at junior colleges and enrolled at Arizona in January.
Jones and Neal are serious contenders to start at wide receiver next season, and Randall, Brewer and Scroggins are all in the mix for the starting quarterback spot. Worthy, a defensive tackle, should get a decent number of snaps on the inside of Arizona’s three-man front.