“School is a whole lot different than it was in my day,” said Allen, who still ranks seventh in Clemson history with 2,778 rushing yards.
Allen, a native of Georgia, left Clemson after his junior season and entered the 1990 NFL Draft. After the disappointment of being selected in the ninth round, Allen persevered and ultimately spent a decade in the pros. He was a three-time All-Pro selection, twice with the Washington Redskins and once with the Minnesota Vikings.
He returned to campus this summer as part of the Tiger Trust program, and is enrolled in 15 hours this fall. By leaving early, he still has a year and a half before he earns his management degree. But by doing so, he’s fulfilling a promise he made to his mother during his recruitment.
Despite all his success at the highest level, Allen said today’s students do not recognize him.
“Nobody in class knows who I am,” he joked with members of the local media. “I haven’t been asked for any autographs yet.”
Allen played on three 10-win teams under legendary Head Coach Danny Ford, and is ecstatic to be part of Dabo Swinney’s program that has put together four straight 10-win seasons.
He noted the program today is an entirely different one than the one he went through, but the leadership at the top is similar.
“Coach Ford made us men, because he was so tough,” Allen said. “But Coach Swinney makes whole men, on and off the field, through everything he does.
“We didn’t have a training table back then, and we didn’t have a masseuse come in on Sundays. I’m happy to see the program has changed for the better. The one common denominator, though, is that we win now and we won back then.”
Working as a student coach under Co-Offensive Coordinator Tony Elliott, Allen said he’s had to remind himself on the sidelines that he is dealing with players who don’t have as much knowledge as he accumulated over the course of his career.
“But at their age, they know so much more about the game of football than I did at that age,” said Allen, who raved about Elliott’s tutelage of the Tiger running backs.
“Coach Elliott and I have a great relationship. I’m definitely learning more from him than he is from me.”
But undoubtedly, the Tiger backs are all learning more than football from Terry Allen, whose collegiate playing career ended well before any of today’s Clemson players were even born.