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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 1

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GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 1 12 Ricardo Allen has had an out- standing year. The former Boilermaker switched positions in Atlanta, becoming a starting safety for the Falcons. Then, he and his wife, Grace, had a baby boy, the now five- month-old Luca James. T h e t r i o w e r e i n E a s t C h i c a g o i n m i d - J u l y, w h e r e R i c a r d o A l l e n w a s h e l p i n g o u t a t K a w a n n S h o r t 's f o o t b a l l c a m p . W e c a u g h t u p w i t h h i m t h e r e , a s h e w a s o n t h e v e r g e o f h i s t h i r d N F L s e a s o n . Q. What's fatherhood been like? Allen: "You always think you have a purpose in this world, but you really don't know until you have a baby boy. You see your own kid and now I know that my job is to provide. I have to go out and do the best that I can do to be able to be a provider for me and my family. "This makes you want to be the best of the best. You want your son to be able to grow up and I try to set a standard for him, and I want to set a very high standard." Q. A year ago at this time, you didn't really know your role in Atlanta, considering you didn't play as a rookie. Then you went into camp thinking you might be able to stay on as a backup corner or nickel back? Allen: "Or whatever I can be on special teams. Then, I get to camp and I'm skinnier, I'm smaller, and I'm moving quicker, and then they move me to free safety and I have to take the hits at safety all year. "But now, I know I'm the free safety and what I do is get every- body lined up and I make tackles, I make plays on the ball, and I know that so I trained this whole offseason to do that." Q. Was there a point last sea- son where you felt more com- fortable in the new position? Allen: "It probably happened in the middle of the season, that's when I realized, 'OK, the game is slowed down and I know what I have to do.' Before, I didn't know what I was doing and was kind of learning on the go, but now I can sit back and judge myself and critique what I did last year and make the ad- justments." Q. Does that make you feel more settled? Allen: "No. The way I am, I don't think I'm ever settled. I want to be the best and that's the difference. It's so easy to strive for being me- diocre or regular or average, but I want to be the best. I want to be the best at the position and do the best I can do. "I don't think I'll ever be set- tled, even when I'm No. 1 and even when I do hit the top, I still want to stick to that spot. I think when you get comfortable and start to settle, that's when you lose. And I don't want to do that." — As told to Kyle Charters Photo by Kyle Charters Boiler Index

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