Sports

Last Chance U helps Dakota Allen to the NFL after he thought he’d never play football again

Dakota Allen defeats the odds in making it to the NFL after several charges that were thought to be detrimental to his future Image:

He wasn’t just a talented football player, he was also a straight-A student. But after getting arrested for burglary, it looked like Dakota Allen’s NCAA football career was over. He was saved by East Mississippi Community college, also known as “Last Chance U” which gave the linebacker another shot at staying in the league. A Netflix series based on the school showed his story the world, and not only did Allen get back on a Division 1 football team, he ultimately secured a spot in the NFL, drafted by the LA Rams in 2019. It’s an incredible comeback story.

Dakota Allen attended Summer Creek High School in Harris County, Texas. Their football team are known as the Bulldogs, and have always had a great football program. That’s what really put the linebacker on the radar as he was named defensive MVP of his district, with 112 tackles and 3 interceptions. Texas Tech, Oklahoma, TCU, Kansas State and Iowa State all noticed Allen’s talents and offered him spots on their teams. Allen ultimately decided to stay close to home and commit to Texas Tech.

In his first season, he was a monster on the field as he had the second most tackles with 87 stops, but near the end of his first year, the defensive phenomenon was arrested for home burglary and stealing guns.

The Lubbock police believe Dakota Allen broke into a house with two of his teammates and stole two cameras, a 40-inch TV and a gun safe containing seven guns. Robert Castaneda, a teammate and heistmate of Allen later said the initial plan was to steal cash and marijuana. Castaneda sold the stolen weapons to a local sporting goods store, but one of the residents of the house noticed his guns for sale there. The police tracked down Castaneda from the store records. The three men were arrested for a second-degree felony count of burglary The second-degree burglary charges against Allen, Castandena and Ellison were all eventually dropped, but all three of the Texas Tech football prodigies were released from the team for failing to uphold student-athlete expectations.

Allen then transferred to East Mississippi Community College, which many people know as Last Chance U. The school has gained recognition due to a popular Netflix series of that name showing how the school keeps troubled yet talented college athletes that don’t have many other places to play football. It wasn’t Division 1 football, and therefore would be unlikely to lead to the NFL, but he knew this was his only chance at getting back to the top. In the show, many viewers noticed his maturity and leadership. Whether it was mentoring the youngsters on the team, or setting an example for the team on the field with his huge tackles. The linebacker dominated at his time there, and was noticed by many big colleges, including Texas Tech. After two seasons at Last Chance U Allen received a call from defensive coordinator David Gibbs, asking if he’d like a second shot on the team. Allen gratefully accepted and finished his last two years at Texas Tech.

In both of those two years, he was voted captain by his teammates as they already know how much of leader on and off the field Allen is. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said, “Dakota is a guy who made a mistake after his freshman year and went to junior college and did everything right, earned his way back. He’s a leader for us already in our locker room. He can tell those young guys about the mistake he made, about what he went through, about how good they have it.”  He lead the team with 102 tackles, and also showed his maturity and great work ethic which lead him to the first team Big-12.

Allen has proved to be a star linebacker, but the burglary still affected his odds to get drafted. He was selected in the 7th round with the 251st pick by the LA Rams. That’s the third last pick in the entire draft. That made him the first person to be drafted that attended Last Chance U. The LA Rams have a history of drafting popular and well-known players and team leaders, and Allen checks all those boxes. And for Rams head coach, Sean McVay, Allen’s story is not a detriment. Rather, he loves seeing young players respond to adversity right away.

McVay stated, “What you learn a lot about people is when they do go through that adversity is how do they respond. I think that’s a great indicator of how people are going handle things that inevitably come up in life and especially that’s relevant to football. I think that gave him a perspective.”

When Allen was kicked from Texas Tech, he thought he would never play football again, but East Mississippi’s Last Chance U handed over the opportunity to prove himself to the world. Grateful, Dakota Allen took a 180°, learning from his past mistake and ultimately becoming the LA Rams “next big thing”. Allen will soon be given the chance to show what he can do on the big stage.

Image: Bobak Ha’Eri

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