Caleb Allen was only a starting varsity quarterback for a single season, but he played well enough in that year to earn himself a college scholarship.
He did so at an in-state Div. II university.
The Stillwater High senior made his college selection official earlier this month, and he was joined by family, teammates and coaches when he signed the letter of intent to play football at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“It’s amazing. It feels great to finally be able to sign,” Allen said. “I’m taking the next step to college, and I’m really, really excited.
“Ever since I was young, I’ve always dreamed of playing college football. When I got to high school, I’ve always tried to work my butt off to get to that next level. It paid off, for sure.”
UCO offered a lot that interested Allen. He had other offers, but the Bronchos seemed like the best fit.
“The atmosphere,” Allen said. “I love the school and everything about it. The facilities are amazing. The coaches are really welcoming. They were always really nice throughout the recruiting process.”
SHS football coach Tucker Barnard was thrilled for his quarterback who led the Pioneers to the Class 6A-II state semifinals this fall.
“These never get old,” Barnard said. “I know I sound like a broken record on it a lot of times, but it’s like a dream come true. We all wanted to do this when we were little kids. It’s just a lot of fun to see guys starting to live out their dream. Caleb is a heck of a quarterback and I think UCO got a really good one.”
Allen led the SHS junior varsity team to two successful seasons as the junior varsity quarterback in 2018 and 2019. He saw limited time on the varsity squad during those seasons, sitting behind one of the Pioneers’ greatest QBs in history in Gunnar Gundy.
Allen played late in those games, leading the backups during the final minutes – or almost the entire second half in some situations – as the Pioneers rolled to a pair of 12-1 seasons that ended in 6A-II state runner-up finishes.
“My junior year, I wasn’t playing much, and I was worried I wouldn’t get the opportunity to show colleges what I can do,” Allen said. “When I got to my senior year, I really tried to work really hard and show everything in the time I had. COVID really did mess it up a lot, but at the same time, I’m still really happy with where I am now.
“(Gunnar) is a great quarterback, and I learned a lot from him just watching him,” Allen said. “He’s a great guy. I’m glad I was able to come up and show them what I could do after Gunnar left.”
The time spent behind Gundy was something Barnard believes could benefit Allen when he joins the Bronchos this summer.
“I’ve never been in a situation in my career where we had a guy that was so ready to come in and be the starter,” Barnard said. “I’m sure he would have been starting a lot of places earlier than he was here. The work he ever put in way before he ever became a starter really did wonders for him. Having been through that, I think it’s going to be easier for him in college, because it’s a shock to a lot of kids who have always been the star and never been behind anybody. He’s had to learn how to deal with that a little bit already, so I think that will help him honestly in his mental maturity.”
Allen became the starting QB this fall, and all he did was complete 69 percent of his passes for 2,150 yards and 21 touchdowns, while only throwing four interceptions. He averaged 238.9 passing yards per game this fall.
In doing so, he was named the All-Area Quarterback of the Year by the News Press. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound QB helped lead the Pioneers to a 9-1 record in a season that will be remembered for being played within the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“I think we’re just scratching the surface of what he’s going to be,” Barnard said. “When looking at him and his frame, and the way he’s going to develop physically over the next three or four years. He can run up and down the basketball court and dunk a basketball. I think he’s going to really develop into a great athlete and it will be a lot of fun to watch him.”