INDIANAPOLIS –Clemson's Dwayne Allen visited Indianapolis last February for the Super Bowl. He returned a second time that month for the Combine.
Allen's third time coming to Indianapolis will be for a longer stay after the Colts made the Clemson tight end their third-round pick in the draft.
"I'm happy. I was actually in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl and got to see the city and liked it a lot," said Allen. "It was a unique experience, standing in the stadium. I said to myself, 'It's a long way from Fayetteville (N.C.).' Little did I know that I was going to be actually playing there for the next three or four years.
"I was very surprised, but after talking to the coaching staff and the offensive coordinator, not surprised at all because the offense calls for two tight ends who are dynamic and can do different things. I'm just happy to be a Colt. … I'm just excited about (the chance) to be a part of a foundation of rebuilding a team."
Allen, the 64th overall choice, will not be the lone offensive talent making his way to the city. The Colts added him after taking Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (first overall) and Cardinal tight end Coby Fleener (34th) with selections in the first two rounds.
Sixth-four picks into the selection process have tipped off how Indianapolis has re-stocked its offense. Their additions would not be to "replace" any certain departed veterans, but the trio will man the positions formerly held by Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme. The team clearly has turned the page to a new era.
"It's nice when your board lines up with your needs. It worked out real good," said General Manager Ryan Grigson. "We secured two great football players that were really just staring us down in the face. Sometimes there's players up there that you're kind of looking at it saying, 'Wow, that guy's still up there.' These are definitely two of those types of players. We got two really good football players that are going to help us tremendously in a spot where we lost some players in an important position for us moving forward with this offense.
"We feel like with Andrew (Luck) and the type of talent that was available for him to utilize, along with (Offensive Coordinator) Bruce Arians and his great expertise at the tight end position and using multiple tight ends and the success he's had, to me the chance to get two tight ends like this in a single draft for what we do, it seems unlikely. It really lined up well for us."
Allen is pleased to join Luck in Indianapolis, and he believes he can be an every-down asset.
"(Andrew Luck) has been touted as the top quarterback in the draft and in all of college football, so I'm ecstatic to catch passes from him," said Allen. "I've been able to watch some of his games and see how much he loves the tight end, so hopefully that love transitions to the NFL game.
"(I am) a complete tight end, a guy who can not only help out in the run game, but stretch the field on a consistent basis. (I'm) a guy who's been proven to move the chains on third-and- short, third-and-long and a guy who's just a leader, a tight end who is a great leader and going forward with such a young team. Hopefully I can get in, work my tail off and become one of those leaders."
Allen was a productive player at Clemson, achieving a program milestone in only three seasons on the field. He hauled in 93 passes to tie the school reception record by a tight end. Allen was able to do so while starting 33 of 41 contests, including 27 over his last two seasons.
Allen bypassed his final season of eligibility, but he exited his career with some significant hardware.
This past season, Allen became the 11th recipient of the John Mackey Award which recognizes the nation's most outstanding tight end. He had 50 receptions for 598 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011, the third straight season he increased his reception and yardage totals.
Allen joined a list of prominent Mackey Award winners. D.J. Williams of Arkansas won the award in 2010, and successful predecessors who gained the honor and have gone on to NFL success include Aaron Hernandez, Fred Davis, Marcedes Lewis, Heath Miller, Kellen Winslow and Daniel Graham.
Clark is another past winner of the award. He won the honor in 2002 after his senior season at Iowa, the third year the award was given. He was the top draft pick by Indianapolis in 2003. Clark (427-4,887, 46 TDs) set the club positional records in receptions and touchdowns, while his yards ranked second to Mackey's Colts record (5,126) for tight ends. Mackey joined the Colts in 1963 as a second-round pick and played with the club through 1971. He had 320 receptions with the Colts for 38 scores. Mackey passed away on July 6, 2011.
"It was a tremendous honor," said Allen. "Being named the nation's top tight end was definitely one of my goals that I wrote down before the season, but the funny thing about my goals is I don't write my goals down until I get done putting in the body of work in the weight room, conditioning and route running before the season. Whenever that is done, I write down my goals and I put John Mackey on there and I was happy to win it."
Allen was on the field for 890 snaps in 2011, never failing to have fewer than 44 scrimmage plays in a game. He had 765 snaps in 2010, and he was on the field for at least 50 snaps in 21 of his last 27 starts. Allen set school positional marks in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2011,
He was used in different roles, lining up wide, in the slot, in the backfield and in a "sniffer" position behind the tackle. The aim was to make Allen one of the more versatile players on the college level.
Allen had multiple receptions in 12 of 14 outings in 2011. In Mackey-type fashion, he had a 54-yard scoring reception against Troy, and he had two scoring receptions in the ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech. Allen had receptions in 26 of 27 outings during his last two seasons, and he had 21 knockdown blocks as a junior.
"In this offense, if you watch Bruce (Arians) operate over in Pittsburgh, you can never have enough tight ends," said Head Coach Chuck Pagano. "We feel like we got two great ones."
Kevin Loughery contributed to this story.