One week before reporting to training camp in Anderson, Indiana, we caught up with Colts tight end Dwayne Allen as he caught up with his Clemson teammate, Landon Walker, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday.
An offensive tackle in college, a knee problem kept Walker out of the NFL. His interest in NASCAR led him to Hendrick Motorsports, where he’s now a gas man on Kasey Kahne’s team and is preparing for one of the biggest races of the season on Sunday, the Brickyard 400.
And even though they haven’t seen each other since their college days, Allen says he and Walker picked up right where they left off.
“How quickly you’re able to just fall back into the way of things. With humor, we tell stories about different memories that we have about our last year or our careers at Clemson. It’s just like walking down memory lane.”
Different as their careers seem now, football and racing have more in common than you might think. Mostly, that they’re both team sports.
“If one guy doesn’t do his job on a play, the play is not going to work out,” says Walker. “Kind of like in this deal. If one guy messes up a little bit, it’s going to cost the whole team.”
Which is why, like football, so much of the game plan comes down to execution. And so much of the execution comes down to focus.
“You can’t be perfect. Nobody’s perfect. You’re going to have mistakes, but you’ve just got to make sure your mistakes are minimal. And if there’s a mistake, it’s got to be something that’s not going to cost anybody.”
Walker says there was no doubt in his mind that Allen would be playing in the NFL. He says he would make a great teammate anywhere, even on a pit crew.
“The biggest thing is not just your athleticism, but coming from football and being able to handle that pressure. Being able to understand, ‘Hey, I’ve got to get my job done.’”
Getting the job done at training camp is Allen’s number one priority right now. That, and becoming the best tight end in the national football league.
“I’m trying to calm down,” he says. “Continue to rest the body. So I can go out and have a dominant training camp and lead a more dominant season. That is my focus.”
Allen says he feels great physically. That his time in Arizona this spring served him well and that a small gym he discovered called IFAST (Indiana Fitness and Sports Training) has been a miracle.
“My hips feel amazing, my weight is down, I dropped about 13 pounds from my playing weight last year, but total I’ve probably dropped around 20 pounds just to get out there and play fast and have a lot of fun.”
What he’s looking forward to most at camp is seeing how all the pieces fit together.
“Everyone is always excited about how a team looks on paper. But I continue to say it means nothing until you see them in full pads and really come together in training camp. And that’s why coach wants us to go up to Anderson, so that we can mesh and mold together as a team and not just a group of individuals on paper.”
Because on the field and on the track, it all starts with teamwork.
— Dwayne Allen (@Dallen83) July 25, 2015
And the relationships you build there are for life.