Southern Miss

Tight end Julian Allen adds punch to Southern Miss offense

Southern Miss tight end Julian Allen (11) celebrates with offensive lineman Oliver Bates and quarterback Nick Mullens after catching a touchdown pass from Mullens in the Golden Eagles’ thrilling come-from-behind 44-35 victory at Kentucky on Saturday night.
Southern Miss tight end Julian Allen (11) celebrates with offensive lineman Oliver Bates and quarterback Nick Mullens after catching a touchdown pass from Mullens in the Golden Eagles’ thrilling come-from-behind 44-35 victory at Kentucky on Saturday night. Associated Press

Lifting weights. Running sprints. Practice after practice in 90-something degree temperatures. It isn’t for everybody.

But for Southern Miss starting tight end Julian Allen, born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey, with a couple of cousins who fight for a living, going through what a football player must go through is just fine with him.

Especially since the Golden Eagles opened the 2016 season with a thrilling come-from-behind 44-35 victory at Kentucky.

“We worked so hard in the offseason and all fall camp,” said Allen, a redshirt junior who hails from Sewell, New Jersey, and played at Lackawanna (Pennsylvania) College. “We prepared every way we could. The guys in the film room put in extra work and it paid off. Coach Hop says all the time you get what you deserve and we definitely got what we deserved Saturday night.”

And so did the Wildcats, according to the 6-foot-3, 234-pounder.

“Coach Hop stressed that, at some point, adversity will strike,” Allen said. “We knew that coming into the game. How would we handle it? We handled it well. It’s a great feeling. We fought harder. Bottom line, we fought harder.

“I think we were more conditioned in the second half. We came out there with a spark, and those guys were tired. We were gassing them, running the ball down their throats. They were definitely tired, and that played a huge part in it.”

After the big victory in Lexington, the Golden Eagles had to be tired, too, but they didn’t show it until they got on the flight back to Hattiesburg.

“A lot of guys were very emotional, including myself,” Allen said. “I had tears of joy coming out of my eyes. I can’t lie about that. A very emotional feeling, an exciting, awesome atmosphere. It got a little rowdy in (the locker room), but it was well- deserved.”

Coach Hop — first-year Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson — has told his players that the win over Kentucky was great, but now it’s time to focus on Savannah State, this week’s opponent at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Game time will be 6 p.m. Saturday.

Savannah State lost its opener 54-0 to Georgia Southern.

“We know we have to get better from week one to week two,” Hopson said. “That’s our charge. We have to do that to be successful.”

Allen, who caught three passes for 30 yards and a touchdown against Kentucky, agrees.

“We move forward from here,” Allen said. “It’s past us now. It was a great feeling, something we’ll never forget. Now it’s on to the next one. Our mindset is ‘we’re going back to work.’”

Allen, who has never played a game at Roberts Stadium, can hardly wait for Saturday to get here.

“I’m looking forward to playing my first game at the Rock,” he said. “Our fans are amazing. I can’t wait to be a part of that and experience that feeling of Eagle Walk. It’s going to be an awesome feeling.”

As for the two cousins who fight for a living, they are professional boxers Anthony and Andre Dirrell.

Anthony Dirrell is a former WBC super middleweight champion while Andre is a bronze medalist from the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Allen hopes to add some hardware to the family trophy chest with the program’s first Conference USA title since 2011.

Game plan

Who: Southern Miss vs. Savannah State

When: 6 p.m., Saturday

Where: Roberts Stadium, Hattiesburg

Radio: 104.9 FM

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