FRISCO, Texas – When Larry Allen Jr. chose to sign with the Cowboys after this year’s NFL Draft, his dad’s reaction was exactly what you’d expect.
“‘How ‘bout them Cowboys!’ That’s the first thing he shouted over the phone,” Allen Jr. said.
The son of arguably the greatest offensive lineman in franchise history is now trying to make the 2019 roster as a rookie free agent. The work begins at this weekend’s rookie minicamp here at The Star in Frisco.
As he walks the hallways, Allen sees his father’s image in various photographs. He was there for some of those moments as a child -- standing on the sidelines, visiting the team locker room.
“Sometimes I’m just focused on trying to prepare and everything,” he said, “and then the next moment I’ll turn the corner and see something and it kind of feels dream-like again. It’s very surreal.”
Wearing the same number (73) as his father in college, Allen was a multiple first-team All-Ivy League selection at Harvard University. But he wants to earn his own way the best he can. He’s wearing No. 62 here at minicamp.
“First, I’m just trying to make the team,” he said. “I’m trying to learn everything I can. It’s true that the guys and the coaches they have here are world-class. I’m just trying to soak it in. I’m trying to do the best I can to become better as a player, to become better as a teammate.”
Allen Jr. is well aware of his lineage and the natural pressure that comes with tracing the footsteps of his father, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman, at the same position. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett played with Allen Sr. in the 1990s and has followed the younger Allen's career through high school and college.
Beyond the obvious family connection, the Cowboys believe Allen Jr. can play.
"Larry Allen Jr. is here because he's a really good football player. That's why he's here," Garrett said. "There's no question it's a great story and we have so much admiration for his dad and for his family, but as much as anything else we're going to try to evaluate him as Larry Allen Jr. and see what he does."
Allen Jr. has a talented staff to learn from as the rookies learn the basics of the Cowboys’ program. His position coach, Marc Colombo, also was Allen Sr.’s teammate for a few games in 2005.
The Cowboys have been part of Allen Jr.’s life since he understood what football was. There’s no other place he’d rather be.
“It’s the greatest team in the NFL,” he said. “It’s my dad’s favorite team. It’s my favorite team.
“To come here and be able to do this myself – just to be able to even try to attempt to try to do what he did and be where he was – it’s an amazing opportunity.”