Badgers’ DT Beau Allen may have chance to play right away
On a walk through the members of the Wisconsin Badgers during Sunday’s football media day, the adjectives describing true freshman defensive tackle Beau Allen were as impressive as his bruised biceps. And in talking with his defensive line teammates, the words describing him are simpler: he can contribute this season.
“He’s looking pretty good,” redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jordan Kohout said of Allen, the Minnesota native with University and Wisconsin and Janesville family ties. “He’s so physically advanced in terms of his body type and athleticism. He’s so big and so quick for how big he is. I think he’s coming along nicely.”
With Wisconsin having graduated four senior defensive tackles from a unit that ranked tops in run defense, allowing only 88.2 yards per game, finding able bodies to help keep that number consistent was priority No. 1 for defensive line coach Charlie Partridge. Through the opening week of fall camp, Allen, who checked in at 6-foot-3 and 325 pounds, has shown that he’s ready to go.
“(Beau has) been very impressive through fall camp,” coach Bret Bielema said. “He’s got to get rid of some habits that are naturally ingrained in him, but he’s doing a good job of buying in what we do at d-tackle. Hopefully, he’ll be able to contribute a significant amount.”
Through the opening seven practices, Allen has been rotating at tackle with true freshman Kyle Costigan, walk-on redshirt freshman Ethan Hemer and sophomore Eriks Briedis. With Kohout sidelined for a week with a knee injury, Allen has worked his way to the top line, being paired with junior Patrick Butrym.
“He’s advanced for his age,” Partridge said of Allen. “His suddenness, his quickness, combined with his size for a kid just coming out of high school, is definitely more advanced than you see out of most.
“What he’s figuring out right now is that you can’t step out of place a couple of inches or you aren’t going to be successful on the play. He is taking the right steps to get better in those areas.”
Those steps started for Allen when he arrived on campus and finally got to work with strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert. Meshing with Herbert during the recruiting process, Allen, in just a few weeks, started to feel his shoulder and leg strength and his clothes start to fit differently.
“I loved it. We did some great stuff, football-related stuff, that I have never really done before,” said Allen, who feels he gained roughly 10 pounds to increase his weight to 325.
“I made some good gains, and I feel stronger and faster. I feel like I’ve made some adjustments, but there is still stuff I need to work on. I’m hoping to keep improving.”
Allen posted team-high 89 tackles (65 solo), 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a senior at Minnetonka High School outside Minneapolis, making him highly coveted by schools like Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Notre Dame.
But the roots his family had with the UW and the state helped sway him toward the Badgers’ defensive line. Allen’s father, Matt, and his mother, Susie, a Janesville native, are UW graduates. His grandfather, the late Fred T. Westphal of Janesville, was six-time All-America swimmer at UW in the late 1950s and a charter inductee into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame, while Beau’s uncle, John Westphal of Janesville, was two-year letter winner in UW football from 1980-81.
“When family members have a positive experience here,” said Partridge, “it certainly gives you a chance with the young man because he’s been talked to his whole life about how great this place is.”
With those memories fresh in his ear, Allen has made sure to stop at Mickey’s Dairy Bar (a famous Madison breakfast restaurant right near the stadium) and State Street. He perhaps has even sled down Bascom Hill in the winter, like his father.
Beau’s next plan, with the strong support of his family, is to play in Wisconsin’s season opener at Nevada-Las Vegas on Sept. 4.
“I feel good, I feel strong, and I feel fast,” Allen said. “One of my goals was to play early, and to hear my name being mentioned acts as positive motivation. It keeps me going and lets me know what I have to do and how I have to keep working.”