Regarded as arguably the best offensive lineman in Dallas Cowboys history, NFL Hall of Famer Larry Allen proudly represented “America’s Team” for 12 seasons. In his final three seasons with Dallas, the 11-time Pro Bowler was teammates with a blossoming young tight end named Jason Witten.
Now, Witten is officially teammates with Larry’s son.
On Sunday afternoon, the Dallas Cowboys announced the signing of Harvard senior and undrafted free agent Larry Allen Jr.,. A 2018 first-team All-Ivy selection, Allen Jr., has been a stalwart offensive guard for the Crimson since 2015, starting in 30 out of 30 possible games in that span.
“[I was] just kind of stunned and had a lot of emotions,” said Allen Jr., after the signing was finalized. “Not just getting a shot to play, but I lived in Dallas for a long time so if there was one team to get a chance with it, it was them.”
Allen Jr.’s father was quick to congratulate his son on social media, stating succinctly, “Proud of Son” in a tweet soon after the news broke.
“I’m very happy for Larry but not at all surprised,” said fellow senior classmate and offensive lineman Matt Jones. “He has worked hard for this moment for years and it’s great to see it finally happen.”
Allen Jr., is one of about 15 unsigned free agents chosen by the Cowboys after the conclusion of the 2019 NFL Draft on Saturday. The bioengineering concentrator will head down to Frisco from May 9-11 to attend Cowboys rookie minicamp before graduation, and commented on the familiarity both with The Lone Star State but also with numerous current members of the Cowboys organization.
“There are still a fair amount of people there that played with [my father],” Allen Jr., said. “Jason Garrett was the quarterback there when my dad played there...the offensive line coach Marc Colombo, he played with my dad.”
Allen Jr. also commented that he will have the opportunity to reunite with some members of the organization who “as a teenager, was a coach” as well as the aforementioned Witten, who returns back to the field after spending a year in the broadcast booth for Monday Night Football.
The Danville, Calif., native is the most recent Crimson offensive lineman to be signed to a NFL professional contract since Max Rich ’17 and will reunite with center Adam Redmond ’16, who was claimed off waivers by Dallas on Sept. 2 after stints with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. Other Crimson linemen currently in the NFL include Cole Toner ’16, Anthony Fabiano ’16, and Nick Easton ’15, all of whom have played with Allen Jr., in his time in Cambridge.
“It has meant so much,” Allen Jr., said. “The people I have met, the coaches. It’s been rocky at times, but it’s been some of the best football I have ever played. I had some of the best teammates I have ever had here.”
Coach Tim Murphy commented in particular on the accomplishments and off-the-field contributions of the senior class.
“I don’t know when I’ve been more proud of a football team in my 25 years as a head coach here,” said Murphy following the Crimson’s 45-27 victory at Harvard-Yale on Nov. 17. “Extraordinary senior leadership, and that is absolutely, positively what drove the team this year.”
Outside of Allen Jr., defensive linemen Richie Ryan and Stone Hart as well as offensive lineman Ben Shoults participated in Harvard Football’s Pro Day in March. The three have not heard back from NFL teams as of Sunday night, according to Allen Jr. The Cowboys signee believed that “no doubt they will have a shot” and praised the work ethic of his fellow classmates.
Allen Jr.’s teammates and coach were quick to reciprocate the same praise.
“He can make it at the next level,” Jones said. “Obviously he has the pedigree, but he also has the work ethic and athleticism to make it.”
"Larry Allen is without a doubt, one of the greatest offensive guards in Harvard and Ivy football history," Murphy stated. "Beyond that, he is one of the most well liked and respected kids in our program."
This past season, 10 former Harvard players were employed by a NFL side, highlighted by current Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05, San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk ’13, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate ’13-’14.
Allen Jr. will have a substantial road ahead to join that esteemed list. But for now, he can take pride in knowing he is, so far, the only senior who will walk through Tercentenary Theatre next month with “NFL athlete” to his name.