It has been quite a journey for New England Patriots punter Ryan Allen.
The West Salem graduate twice won the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best college punter while at Louisiana Tech, and now in his fifth NFL season, Allen is preparing for his third Super Bowl.
“It’s as good as the first one. I mean, each year it’s a different story, a different group of players on the team, and what you go through in a season, they’re all different,” Allen told USA TODAY this week. “It makes all the hours we put in — stress, pressure, grit and work ethic we put into it — it makes it worth it at the end.”
Allen already holds the NFL record for longest punt in a Super Bowl — 64 yards in Super Bowl XLIX, where the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24.
Allen needs two more Super Bowl punts to have his average count. His current Super Bowl average is 45.3 yards per punt. The all-time record is 46.5 by Jerrel Wilson of the Kansas City Chiefs, who competed in Super Bowls I and IV.
In addition to winning Super Bowl XLIX, Allen also won Super Bowl LI last season as the Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime.
“It’s just unbelievable the journey that kid’s been on,” said Mike Allen, Ryan’s father. “He has stuck with it. He has fought so much adversity to get where he’s at. The man he is today is just incredible.”
Allen will get a chance at a third Super Bowl championship ring when the Patriots face the Philadelphia Eagles at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Ryan Allen’s parents, Mike and Sherry, continue to be proud and excited about his journey in the NFL, which has now taken him to a third Super Bowl. Both parents plan to be in Minneapolis this weekend for the Super Bowl, and they both spoke this week about watching him grow up and pursue his dream.
Mike Allen, Ryan's father: “It’s amazing how he handles pressure, and that’s the difference with Ryan. You fill a stadium up with 80,000 people and ask a guy to punt into a trash can 60 yards away. There are guys who are better than Ryan, but Ryan can do it when they need him to do it, and that’s been his salvation the whole way — that kid comes through for them. He does exactly what (New England head coach Bill) Belichick tells him.”
Sherry Allen, Ryan's mother: “Sometimes it’s hard to put into words. Watching him play has been an amazing experience. I’m just in awe of the amount of pride I have in him, watching him on TV reaching that level of success. I never miss a game. I would go crazy if I couldn’t watch it in real time. To think that not only does he play for a football dynasty, but that he’s being coached by one of the best coaches of all time, and he’s playing with (Tom Brady,) one of the best quarterbacks of all time, it’s just amazing.”
Ryan Allen is a graduate of West Salem High School, where he played football for longtime coach Shawn Stanley, who spoke this week about Allen’s career.
Shawn Stanley, West Salem football coach: “It’s just an amazing journey — a two-time Ray Guy Award winner and potential three-time Super Bowl winner — it’s just crazy. Guys like that are a once-in-a-coaching-career thing. Everything happens for a reason. I don’t know that it was his plan to go out and play for the Patriots, but that’s how things worked out. I think there’s a lot of pressure being around those guys, but he’s always been a pretty cool character. We are truly proud of him.”
Ryan Allen's regular season NFL statistics
Punt yards: 2,515
Yards per punt: 43.4
Punts inside the 20-yard line: 24
Punt yards: 15,641
Yards per punt: 45.3
Punts inside the 20-yard line: 132
Ryan Allen's postseason statistics
Punt yards: 419
Yards per punt: 41.9
Punts inside the 20-yard line: 5
Punt yards: 2,024
Yards per punt: 43.1
Punts inside the 20-yard line: 19
Ryan Allen's Super Bowl statistics
SUPER BOWL XLIX
Punt yards: 196
Yards per punt: 49.0
Punts inside the 20-yard line: 1
SUPER BOWL LI
Punt yards: 166
Yards per punt: 41.5
Punts inside the 20-yard line: 3