Eltoro Allen hated the way Utah State’s 2017 season ended. What player, coach or fan wouldn’t?
“We had a really great team with a lot of great players, but one thing that no football player wants – any athlete for that matter – is to lose their last game,” Allen said.
Which is exactly what happened to the Aggies last year. Utah State played in its sixth bowl game in the last seven seasons, but it didn’t turn out the way the Aggies had hoped in a 26-20 overtime loss to New Mexico State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
Utah State led 20-13 in the fourth quarter but couldn’t close NMSU out. That didn’t sit well with Allen. In fact, he used it as motivation heading into his senior season with the Aggies.
“We got to the bowl game, and that was an amazing experience,” Allen said. “It was great. We played New Mexico State, the same team we ended up beating this year pretty good. They beat us last year in the bowl, and that left a bad taste in my mouth. I think a lot of my teammates felt the same way going into this year.
“Coming into my last year, I want to be a part of a team that is remembered here for a long time and also come out of here with a ring. We want to win a Mountain West championship, and I want to win my last football game. I don’t want it to end with a bad taste in my mouth like it did last year.”
So far, so good for the Aggies.
No. 14 Utah State is currently riding a school-record 10-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s showdown at No. 21 Boise State, a game that will decide the Mountain Division champion in the Mountain West. The streak with a 60-13 beatdown of NMSU on Sept. 8. In that game, Allen rushed for 30 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Despite the setback earlier in the season that kept him out of both the Tennessee Tech and Air Force games, Allen has maintained a positive attitude and been ready to go whenever his number is called.
In the Aggies’ 45-20 win at BYU, Allen carried the ball three times for six yards. One week later, he caught one pass for nine yards and rushed five times for eight yards in USU’s 59-28 win over UNLV.
“The great thing about it is we have depth at running back this year. We all do different things great, but we all do the same things great at the same time, so it’s kind of like anybody can come in and make a play,” Allen said. “You know that no matter who is in there, they are going to get the job done. You don’t have to worry about what’s going on during the game. If I’m on the sideline or Gerold (Bright) is on the sideline or if Darwin (Thompson) is on the sideline, we feel like, ‘Oh yeah, we can get a quick breath, and my dude is going to come in and make a play for me,’ and vice versa.”
Allen is an explosive running back that is a home-run threat every time the ball is in his hands.
“One thing about Eltoro is he is extremely explosive,” said first-year USU running backs coach DeAndre Smith. “He is one of the faster guys in the room. He’s a one-cut-and-go kind of guy. He is totally different than Bright and Darwin.”
Prior to Utah State, Allen earned California Community College Athletic Association National Division Central League second-team honors in the Southern California Football Association at running back as a sophomore at Riverside City College. The native of Elk Grove, California, rushed for 1,001 yards on 149 carries (6.7 ypc/83.4 ypg) and eight touchdowns, helping the Tigers to a 10-2 record and appearance in the SCFA Southern California Regional Championship game.
When Utah State came knocking after his sophomore season at Riverside, Allen wasted little time in signing with the Aggies.
“Utah State was my first offer, and as soon as they offered me, I took it,” Allen said. “Coach (David) Yost and coach (Matt) Wells believed in me, and they stuck by me. I took my visit, and that is when I got offered. While on my visit, I saw Logan, saw the stadium, saw the field, saw the facilities, I got to meet all the coaches and my teammates, and I just fell in love with the place.”
Allen was a standout at Elk Grove High School, earning California Interscholastic Federation Sac-Joaquin Section second-team honors as a senior after helping the Thundering Herd to a 10-3 record and the semifinals of the playoffs. He rushed for 1,211 yards on 116 carries (10.4 ypc, 93.2 ypg) and 18 touchdowns that year.
Allen didn’t start playing football until he was in middle school. It was his speed that got him noticed.
“One day, the coach’s son just saw me out there running around, and his son went up to him and told him, ‘We’ve got this kid out here and he’s the fastest kid at the school. We should see if he wants to play,’” Allen recalled. “So, his dad spoke to me after school one day, and once I got on the field, I fell in love with the sport.”
The son of Eltoro Allen and Christina Rivera is majoring in kinesiology and is on track to graduate in the spring of 2019. He has big plans for what he wants to do with his major after graduating.
“After college, I want to be a firefighter, but with kinesiology, I also want to use that later on in the future to open up a facility to train young kids, like myself when I was younger, to prepare them for the next level and be able to play Division I football,” Allen said. “I think that is an experience that every kid should have, that aspired to do that.”
When he’s not concentrating on football or schooling, Allen enjoys spending time outdoors – when the weather is appropriate.Comment on this story
“I like to get out,” said Allen, who also enjoys juggling. “Something we’ve got going on right now is corn mazes, so those are fun. I like to get out and have fun, but if I’m in the house when it starts getting really cold like it is now, I like to sit back and play video games, watch football or hang out with friends – just enjoy my downtime.”
Smith appreciates everything Allen brings to the table for his group – both on and off the field.
“With all those guys, I never have to worry about my phone ringing in the middle of the night on the weekends,” Smith said.