Wisconsin football: Braelon Allen’s arrow is pointing all the way up

Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen, Mandatory credit - Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Wisconsin Badgers running back Braelon Allen, Mandatory credit - Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

The Wisconsin football program has a certified stud on their hands with converted running back Braelon Allen.

Not long ago, 17-year-old Fond du Lac, Wisconsin native Braelon Allen was a promising four-star prospect in the class of 2022. Allen would later reclassify to the 2021 class and enroll early at the University of Wisconsin in pursuit of early playing time.

Braelon Allen was a highly sought-after safety prospect that many felt would have to move to inside linebacker due to “growing out of” the position. Allen is well known for being a freak of nature in the weight room and is light years ahead of almost any freshman you’re going to find nationwide in terms of physical maturation – so the jump to the collegiate level wasn’t exactly a reach.

Many, myself included, were stunned to find out that Braelon Allen was going to begin his badger career at running back. Which in hindsight should have been a little less surprising considering he rushed for 1,047 yards on just 71 carries while scoring 21 touchdowns as a Junior in high school.

As a true freshman, he would have his work cut out for himself entering fall camp. The badgers had 10 players at the position and very little running back experience himself.

Wisconsin football didn’t know what they really had

What he did have going for him was the fact he had a completely different skillset to offer due to his six-foot, 238-pound size. He didn’t begin the season in the two-deep, but Allen didn’t let that discourage him – he just worked harder, knowing eventually his opportunities would come.

Allen didn’t play any snaps on offense against Penn State — only special teams —  but has seen an increased role every week thereafter.

Braelon Allen Snap Counts by week:

Penn State – 0
Eastern Michigan – 8
Notre Dame – 13
Michigan – 21
Illinois -30

Wisconsin’s offense was struggling and needed a spark plug, somebody who could offer something different. Braelon Allen had put in the time and worked his way up the depth chart, earning the opportunity to produce for the badgers.

Against Illinois, Allen would be called upon to be the badgers 1B to Chez Mellusi’s 1A. Allen finished the game with 18 carries for 131 yards (7.3 YPC) and a touchdown.

In just a short sample size Braelon Allen has shown the ability to move a pile forward using sheer strength, coupled with a strong burst for a 238 lb running back. His stature makes him a weapon in short-yardage situations, which coincidentally Wisconsin has struggled with to this point. Against Illinois, Allen was credited with 70 yards rushing that came after the initial contact. Utilizing his size and strength only made sense.

Allen has however shown the ability to be more than just a bruising back. Allen showed patience when running behind the offensive line and was more elusive than previously thought – evidenced by forcing five missed tackles against the Illini.

His smash-mouth style of play and violent running style is exactly what this badgers offense needed. More than that, he’s a perfect compliment to Chez Mellusi who is a tough running finesse style back.

It’s clear that Mellusi is the team’s number one back, given he just toppled 100 yards rushing for the third time this season, but if Wisconsin is going to play their brand of football they’re going to require a consistent second option at tailback.

And after Braelon Allen’s strong showing against Illinois, it’s hard to envision a scenario where he isn’t that player moving forward. The two backs proved to be a great 1, 2 punch at running back and became the first badgers running back duo to eclipse 100 yards rushing since 2018.

Braelon Allen’s story at Wisconsin is just beginning, but it’s hard not to be excited about his potential. At just 17 years old, he’s going to make his impact felt sooner rather than later. Allen is here to stay and will be the badgers 1B running back moving forward.

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