The Philadelphia Eagles said that they have signed Devon Allen, who placed fifth then fourth in the 110m hurdles at the last two Olympics.
Allen, a former University of Oregon wide receiver whose last snap was in 2016, previously said he planned to return to football after this track and field season. Allen will compete in track through the world championships in Eugene, Oregon, in July, assuming he makes the team, his agent said Friday.
“It’s now or never because I don’t want to get too old,” the 27-year-old Allen said last month about football, according to World Athletics Championships Oregon22. “I don’t want to turn 30, 31 and then try and get into the NFL.”
Allen participated at the University of Oregon pro day last Friday. He ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash, according to the Eagles.
Last year, Allen missed an Olympic medal by four hundredths of a second, then a month later clocked a personal-best 12.99 seconds. He ranked second in the world by best time in 2021, trailing only countryman Grant Holloway, the 2019 World champion and Tokyo Olympic silver medalist.
When Allen turned pro in track in November 2016, he said his plan was to win an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo and then move back to football.
“My ideal scenario is to run track for the next couple years, and then 2020 Olympics, win a gold medal, have the world record, put that to the side and try to play football,” Allen said then.
Allen at first returned to play wide receiver for the Ducks after the 2016 Rio Games. He tore his left ACL and MCL and suffered meniscus damage in a non-contact injury defending a punt return in a game Sept. 17, 2016. That was his last play.
It was the same injury he suffered on the opening kickoff of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015, just to the opposite knee. That redshirt freshman season, he led Oregon with seven receiving touchdowns, was second on the team with 41 catches and third with 684 receiving yards before the injury.
A total of 43 Olympians, including 34 track and field athletes, also played in an NFL regular-season game, according to Olympedia.org.
Most recently, 2012 Olympic long jumper Marquise Goodwin played wide receiver for three teams over the last decade. The most famous hurdler to transition to the NFL was Renaldo Nehemiah, who missed the 1980 Olympics due to the U.S. boycott while he held the world record.
“I know the skill gap is still there from college to the NFL, but I think when I did play college and when I did play at a pretty good level, I would consider myself talented enough to play in the NFL,” Allen said last month, according to World Athletics Championships Oregon22. “I’ve been doing football stuff for about the last six weeks. It’s like riding a bike. I don’t really feel much different than I did in 2014 and 2016 playing ball.”
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nbcolympictalk