Redshirt seasons are intended for progress — getting better, bigger, more comfortable, more knowledgeable. Sloan Allison, who calls himself a “fifth-year freshman,” has done all of those things in the past 12 months.
The son of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga sixth-year coach Rodney Allison is not just playing for his father. He’s playing the same position, quarterback, his dad played at Texas Tech, where Rodney was the MVP of the Southwest Conference in 1976.
During the Mocs’ scrimmage Saturday, Sloan — no longer the lost-looking freshman with the crew cut and boyish face — completed 5 of 12 passes for 40 yards. It was by no means a performance for the ages, but even Dear Old Dad had to admit that his shaggy-haired 6-foot-2, 215-pound son has improved dramatically since the preseason a year ago.
“He’s come a long way,” Rodney Allison said. “If he’d have played (more) in high school, I think he’d be even further along. He’s come a long way, and he’s got a chance to play at some point.”
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“He’s made a lot of progress, and he’s on track for where we’d like a young quarterback to be,” offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Carmen Felus said. “He’s developed physically and he’s really improved his footwork.”
Sloan — who had a good senior season at Boyd-Buchanan but played on the golf team before that — is behind juniors Jare Gault and Tony Pastore on the depth chart, so he probably won’t play this season. Beyond that depends on continued progress.
Should Sloan be in the running for the starting job at some point, Rodney said he’ll make that decision the same way he would if his son weren’t involved.
“I sit in on every quarterback meeting, every one of them, and ... if it comes down to making a decision on Sloan, I’ll make it with no bias involved at all,” Rodney said. “He knows that, and I think everybody around me knows that there’s no partiality involved at all.”
Whether Coach Allison is around to be faced with such a decision remains to be seen as well. He’s in the final year of his contract and needs a good season to secure a new deal.
“Me and my dad talk a lot and that comes up sometimes, but other than that I really don’t think about it,” Sloan said. “There’s a lot of pressure on us this year, but we try not to think about that.”
Even if it took Sloan a little while to adjust his game to the collegiate level, he said going to school at UTC has been fun from the start. It was obvious he was adjusting to college life just fine when, back in February, he and teammates Gault and Chris Harr spent their spring break in Charleston, S.C., cheering on UTC’s basketball teams at the Southern Conference tournament.
Sloan, sporting a Charleston-appropriate seersucker jacket, was as animated as anyone in the student section at the North Charleston Coliseum. He said he tries to carry that enthusiasm to the football field, too.
“I just go out there and try to have fun, man,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t fun.”
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...